Maplin Electronics UK Championship 2008: Murphy wins late-night epic

Following a tense final, probably the most dramatic since last season’s China Open, it was Shaun Murphy who eventually came out on top to win the UK Championship for the first time, defeating Marco Fu 10-9 at 0:22am UK time…

Shaun Murphy 10-9 Marco Fu

A former world champion, Shaun Murphy is now a UK Champion following an epic victory against the battling Marco Fu in Telford tonight.

At 5-3 up, it was Murphy who extended his lead to three frames with an impressive 77 after an attempted pink to the right-centre from Fu appeared to ‘roll off’ at least half an inch towards the far jaw.

Just when he was threatening to run away with it though, Marco kept his hopes alive by coming back from 30-0 down to take the tenth frame on the final pink to keep the pressure on. It looked like Marco would take the next in one visit to really worry Shaun but breaking down on 59 with a couple of jabby shots allowed the world number three to get right back into it. Unfortunately for Shaun though, a miss on the brown handed the frame back to Marco, despite ten minutes spent trying to get a snooker on the pink.

It was frame twelve that proved to be the most significant so far though as it would mean the difference between 7-5 and 6-6 at the mid-session interval, psychologically a very significant factor. After both players had chances, the key shot proved to be a cruel in-off when potting the last red, as the white clipped off the black and went in the yellow pocket, presenting Marco with an unmissable chance to level it.

As is often the case, with Marco now having taken three frames in a row, it was Murphy who was to respond, coming out after the interval and taking the next two frames to restore his two frame lead. This was not without drama however as in frame 13 he miscued badly when attempting to put extreme right-hand side onto the white when potting a red with the rest. Not only did he miss the red, but he took a chunk out of his tip and gave himself something to worry about for the rest of the night.

Marco in truth was not playing well, indeed for most of the match he had been well below his best, but it was a performance very much like some of those put in by John Higgins this season. An excellent matchplayer, he showed it once again by taking the next two frames, both tight affairs and ideal for him given that his scoring hasn’t quite been there.

Down to a best of three match, Marco took the 17th to go into the lead for the very first time at 9-8, but Murphy being the champion that he is, forced a decider with a well-taken frame won in one visit and approaching midnight we were still no closer to finding out who would be the winner.

When it came to it, the first chance in the final frame fell to Marco Fu following a fluke, but a missed brown to the left-centre put Shaun right in amongst the balls and gave him an outstanding opportunity to clinch the title in one visit. Eventually though it came down to a match ball pink for Shaun which incredibly he missed by a mile, only to fluke it into the right-middle pocket and leave Marco needing snookers. Not only that, but his next safety shot left the black hanging right over the pocket, Marco must have been gutted!

Perhaps Shaun will use these lucky boots more often…

Still, Murphy had played the better snooker all day, winning more frames in one visit and generally having the upper hand. Marco had played some great stuff this week, but he couldn’t quite produce it tonight and it shows you just what a matchplayer he is that he was able to take it all the way to a deciding frame.

The result though does wonders for both players provisional rankings and for Murphy, makes him one of the few players who has won both the UK and World Championships during his career now. Also congratulations to Willie Thorne on day one who predicted on the BBC that Murphy would be one to watch this week, a good tip given his poor form this season before now!


Marco Fu 9-10 Shaun Murphy
First Session: 34-74, 56-48, 0-99(99), 103(102)-17, 4-70(38), 0-73(73), 143(69,74)-0, 31-62(49)
Second Session: 1-77(77), 66-51, 74(59)-52(47), 58-45, 0-109(54,40), 6-87(87), 73(45)-39, 73-40, 93(43,46)-23