The first match of this years Maters tournament couldn’t have been more exciting as Sean Murphy and Mark Selby endured an epic battle in a match went all the distance and into a final frame which Sean Murphy won.
These two men have played each other many times before, in fact the two English men have played a record 34 times against each other. Sean Murphy came into this tournament rejuvenated, after looking ‘disinterested’ in last years semi-final of the masters. The man from Rotherham and a former winner of The Masters has won four titles, along with racking up three 147 breaks along the way this season .
As for his opponent Mark Selby has been in disappointing form of late, the 31 year old who did win the World Championship by beating Ronnie O’Sullivan was beaten in the Uk Championship first round, losing to David Morris. Selby was hoping for a better run in the tournament here.
With pleasantries out of the way the match duly got underway and it was Mark Selby who drew first blood, ‘The Jester From Leicester’ was quicker out of the blocks – and a century break from Selby after a poor break off from Murphy, allowed the former world number one to take the first frame.
Murphy obviously rattled, needed to get himself into this match especially with the quality Mark Selby posses, Selby is the defending World Champion after all. Sean Murphy, a former World champion himself drew level, all be it with a scrappy frame which lasted some 40 minutes – but I am sure the man who is from Rotherham wouldn’t care about that.
From that point on Murphy took control and reeled four frames off to move with in one of victory, with out compiling a truly big break. The break of 92 in frame four turned out to be the highest of the match for Sean Murphy.
Just when Sean Murphy thought he had done enough to win this game – and book his place in the quarter finals, World Champion Selby came roaring back winning four frames on the bounce as well. Sean Murphy was suffering from what most players suffer from when they are in a position of real dominance and with victory within ‘touching distance ‘ – and that’s crossing the winning line.
Breaks of 120 and 91 with in that four frame winning sequence, brought the 31 year old Selby right back into the match. From being 5-1 down – and seeming down and out, the match was all square at 5-5 with all to play for.
The final frame was understandably tight and tense, due to what was at stake ( a quarter final place at The Masters). It would be eventually Sean Murphy who would come out on top on this one, Murphy managed to hold on despite an onslaught from Mark Selby. Sean Murphy will no doubt be a relieved man.
As for Selby the 31 year old will be left to rue some missed pots, which snooker fans are used to seeing put in the pocket as the man from Leicester disappointingly exited again in the first round of the tournament. For Sean Murphy though however, he will be hoping to go far in this tournament.