Maplin Electronics UK Championship 2008: Classy Murphy puts Lee to the sword as Scots come out level

Thursday sees the remaining two quarter-finals played as Stephen Maguire, John Higgins, Shaun Murphy and Stephen Lee look to move into the semi-finals…

Stephen Maguire 4-4 John Higgins

John Higgins weathered the storm today against Stephen Maguire as he recovered from 4-2 down to come out of the session level at 4-4 each going into tonight.

Indeed it was Stephen Maguire who started off on fire with a 91 break to win the opener, which probably would have been a century but for a nasty kick on a red. His form continued into frame two with a few outstanding shots early on, a black to the left centre in particular as he really looked to stamp his authority on the match. John did get a chance to come back at him later in the frame but he was not quite playing as well as he can do and Stephen took it for 2-0.

The next frame saw the real John Higgins however as he reduced his arrears with a swift 72 break following a missed pink from Stephen. He trailed at the interval however as a Maguire fluke led to a snooker than John could not get out of safely and Stephen took full advantage for 3-1.

John was still not playing quite to the level that you might expect as a safety success rate of only 80% in comparison to 96% from Stephen Maguire would attest to. Despite this he took three of the four frames after the interval to level things up going into tonight and given how both players played, he must be delighted with that. I hope for Stephen’s sake that he does not lose his focus too much because of failing to take full advantage this afternoon and he can continue to play as well tonight…

Shaun Murphy 7-1 Stephen Lee

Shaun Murphy finally showed why he is the number three in the world and produced a string of big breaks to leave himself on the brink of a semi-final clash with either John Higgins or fierce rival John Higgins on Saturday.

It was Stephen Lee who made the better start with a well-taken break of 69 but from that point on it was all Murphy as breaks of 70 and 86 helped move him 3-1 ahead at the interval, before Lee really let the fifth frame slip as he broke down on 51 having twice tried to split the reds and failed. Murphy made him pay with a clearance of 65 and further breaks of 45, 51, 43 and 48 saw him leave Stephen an almost impossible task at 7-1 down…

Shaun Murphy 7-1 Stephen Lee 11-73(69), 59-17, 86(70)-30, 89(86)-15, 79(65)-51(51), 65(45)-44, 99(48,51)-0, 64(43)-18
John Higgins 4-4 Stephen Maguire 7-91(91), 59-17, 72(72)-1, 9-68(66), 64(53)-49, 5-96(67), 74-7, 68(56)-5