CLS 2011: Murphy Comeback Downs King

Trailing Mark King 2-0 in tonight’s final, the odds were against Shaun Murphy booking his place in the winner’s group of the 2011 Championship League this evening but with breaks of 139, 137 and 80, that is exactly what he did…

Coming into the day as the joint table-topper, 2009 Premier League champion Shaun Murphy was well-placed to progress through to the semi-finals of the group and despite an early slip-up against Peter Ebdon, booked his last four spot with a 3-1 victory against Mark King.

Joining him were Ali Carter, winner of both his matches today on his way to the top of the table, Peter Ebdon and eventually King who defeated Stuart Bingham to pip him and the remaining players to a top four spot.

Masters finalist Marco Fu was in a poor position following three defeats from four matches yesterday but a 3-0 victory today against John Higgins did at least ensure that he will be back tomorrow for Group Four, but it is the end of the road for Higgins and Stuart Bingham who finish as the bottom two.

In the semi-finals, Shaun Murphy was paired with Peter Ebdon and in a rematch of their World Championship semi-final back in 2005, hit a break of 122 in the deciding frame to clinch an important 3-2 victory. There he would face Mark King who edged out Ali Carter, also in a deciding frame though this time with a high break of just 30.

In the final it was the underdog King who made the brighter start, breaks of 63 and 39 putting him two clear. That however only served to fire Shaun into life, first making a ‘group high’ break of 139, superseding an earlier 138 from Higgins, before levelling matters with a 137. From there it was hard to see him slipping up and although Mark had his chances, a break of 80 was ultimately enough to see him through to the final group.

So that is Mark Selby, Mark Williams and now Shaun Murphy through to what is shaping up to be a winner’s group of the highest quality. Tomorrow will see Marco Fu, Ali Carter, Peter Ebdon and Mark King return, as well as the entrance of Stephen Hendry, Mark Allen and Matthew Stevens enter as the fourth group from seven gets underway in Essex.

For all of today’s results, please click here.