Maplin Electronics UK Championship 2008: Murphy completes convincing victory

Click below to find out how today’s quarter-finals have concluded…

Shaun Murphy 9-3 Stephen Lee

Shaun Murphy is into his first ranking event semi-final since the China Open back in March with a convincing win over Stephen Lee today.

Coming back on at 7-1 down, Stephen actually made a good go of it tonight and took the first two frames to pull it back to 7-3. To be in with any kind of chance though he needed to take all four frames before the interval really and he couldn’t manage it as Shaun took the third of the evening with a nice break to make it 8-3. Though Stephen worked a good opening in the next frame and kept going, it didn’t work out for him and Shaun stepped in for frame and the match.

Having lost all of his matches coming into this event and looked decidedly shaky in seeing off Martin Gould in round one here, it is clear that Shaun is now so much more confident and is a genuine contender for this title. Hopefully from his point of view he will continue to perform well for the rest of the season now and get himself up the provisional rankings where he belongs.

Stephen Lee will be disappointed to lose so heavily but it turns out that he has been suffering from severe toothache for the last 24 hours so in the circumstances he will probably be quite happy with how he played. It has been a positive week for him overall and hopefully he will be back on form again at the Welsh Open in February, should he qualify of course.

Stephen Maguire 9-7 John Higgins

2004 UK Champion Stephen Maguire moved into the semi-finals tonight with a hard-fought win against friend and countryman John Higgins.

Unfortunate to finish the afternoon level at 4-4, Stephen set about making amends tonight in the opener with a terrific plant which put him perfectly on the black as he won the frame in one visit. Like this afternoon, he was on fire early on and with a great pot to the left-centre, made 63 before a careless miss on the pink into the same pocket. Higgins had a chance to clear with 67 but a miss on the final red allowed Maguire in to seal it with a double and move two frames ahead once again.

Higgins was not playing well and despite a good response in frame 11, Maguire edged a scrappy 12th to go into the mid-session interval at 7-5. The next two frames though were the scrappiest of the match, both players missing a string of easy balls and Maguire becoming visibly frustrated, kicking things, dropping rests, all sorts as Higgins took both to level up at 7-7.

It looked like John has gone favourite at this point but although he was in first in frame 17, he could not wrap up the frame in one visit and a very impressive 75 clearance to green from Stephen put him back into the lead with two possible frames remaining.

With arch-rival Shaun Murphy awaiting in Saturday’s second semi-final, it promises to be a mouthwatering clash between two players who have a history of not getting on with the infamous chalk incident and just a general clash of personalities. Hopefully it will be as good as their epic China Open final this year which went all the way…