UK Championship 2010: Murphy and Williams to clash in Telford Semi

After yesterday’s enthralling pair of quarter-finals, the four players in action today did their best to match them and were largely successful as both matches all but went the distance. Eventually though it was Shaun Murphy and Mark Williams who came out on top…


Mark Williams 9-7 Mark Joyce
Shaun Murphy 9-7 Neil Robertson

2008 UK Champion Shaun Murphy booked his place in the semi-finals of this year’s competition this evening with an impressive 9-7 victory against reigning world champion Neil Robertson. Resuming this evening level at 4-4, the pair remained impossible to separate as the score moved onto 5-5, 6-6 and 7-7 as the session progressed. Eventually however it was Shaun who finished the stronger and took the last two frames to complete victory.

As you can probably tell, I did not see a great deal of the match but there was one notable incident at 8-7 when with Shaun Murphy in the balls, the arena scoreboards began to flicker constantly which resulted in the players leaving the arena until the problem was resolved some ten minutes later. Surely they should keep a manual scoreboard handy at the venue for such an occasion. Although the incident did appear to distract Shaun as he missed his next shot by a considerable margin, it did not appear to affect the outcome.

A fine result for the 2008 champion, Shaun now rises a further two places in the rankings to number five with the chance to surpass Ding Junhui should he win another match. More important to Shaun though is winning another UK title and you have to say that he is well in with a shout.

For Neil it is a disappointing result but given the success that he has enjoyed this season he cannot be too disheartened but it. Again however he was guilty of oversleeping for his match as explained here. As has been commented on by a few people recently, Neil either needs a manager or a new alarm clock I think because it is something that will one day surely cost him dearly, as he himself observed during the Premier League last month,

Mark Williams meanwhile came through a hard fought encounter with the brave Mark Joyce this evening despite playing far from his best snooker.

Having seen the score go from 4-0 to 4-4 in the first session, Williams knew that he was in a match this evening despite the fact that his opponent was appearing at this stage of a ranking event for the first time in his career. Indeed he could have been forgiven for feeling a sense of deja vu having lost to the similarly unheralded Peter Lines in Telford last year!

Although Mark continued to struggle somewhat, the key frame I felt was that before the interval which saw the Welshman move two frames clear at 7-5, a gap that Joyce was never able to subsequently bridge, despite a career and tournament best break of 143 later in the evening.

The win moves Williams up above Ding Junhui into third place in the rankings and with so few points to defend between now and May, he is well in contention to move back up to the world number one spot that he once held so convincingly. He will have to play a lot better against Murphy however if he is to keep his hopes of another UK title alive.

A word though for Mark Joyce who following by far the best week of his professional career is now inside the top 48 and surely a player full of renewed confidence and belief. We have seen a few players make a similar breakthrough recently and then struggle however so it will be interesting to see whether Mark can maintain this form for the remainder of the season…