Shaun Murphy
Image: Wikimedia Commons/DerHexer

Shaun Murphy wins Players Championship 2023 after Welsh Open defeat

Shaun Murphy ended his three-year wait for a ranking title with a dominant performance at the Players Championship, beating Ali Carter 10-4 in a superb night that saw him exercise full control and make five centuries on the way to the line.

Murphy has been the form player of the tournament, and arguably the start of 2023 – it was only a matter of time before he capitalised and won something after his surprise defeat in the Welsh Open final last week, and nothing seemed to stand in his way throughout this championship. He now draws equal with Jimmy White on 10 ranking wins, because only the 11th player ever to hit double figures in terms of ranking victories, and he did so in style.

The former world champion was looking good to begin with, with only an unlucky kiss on the pink ruining his position – he had to scrap it out a little, but soon won the first frame after Carter missed a snooker. He made it 2-0 with a superb clearance of 145 after Carter missed a long red. Then he gave Carter the initiative after missing a tough green, and he took the lead before missing a blue off the final red. It came down to colours and a battle on the blue, one that Murphy would win. Carter needed to respond soon, and he did, winning a safety exchange to make a clearance of 122 and head into the interval 3-1 behind.

It was a scrappy safety battle when the players returned – after a low-scoring frame, Murphy did enough to put another frame on the board. The former world champion had a chance to steal the next frame, but Carter won a battle on reds on the cushion to once again move two behind. Murphy responded quickly, making 141 in the next frame, and he followed it up with yet another century – he was on for a 147, but eventually finished on 112 after failing to pot a red on the right cushion. It was a record-breaking ninth century of the tournament, and made it 6-2 heading into the evening.

The last few seasons I have really struggled, but you have to keep going and persevere

– Shaun Murphy

Carter needed a fast start, but he gave Murphy the chance – he had another 147 chance, but he missed a simple black to win the frame with 89. Murphy then extended the record with a 103 clearance, begun with another long red, to move two from victory. The Captain rediscovered some rhythm to make 71 and 82, moving into the final interval 8-4 behind. The momentum seemed to be with hm in frame 13, but he only made 48 before missing the pack and facing a long red from baulk. He missed, and Murphy made 88 to inch up to the finish line, a line he comfortably crossed with a 130 clearance.

After the match, Murphy said: “I played really good all week, but last week when it mattered in the final of the Welsh, I couldn’t get the job done. So to not just win but to play like that, I am going to put down as one of my biggest achievements in my career. I am really going to take that like a feather in the cap.

“The last few seasons I have really struggled, but you have to keep going and persevere. There has been very little to get excited about in the world of snooker for me over the past few seasons.

“There have been a lot of honest conversations in front of mirrors and a lot of soul searching, but I am very lucky to have some great support, with friends and family back home.”

Carter said: “Shaun played great, and he has played the best all week. When he is on, we have seen tonight what happens and it is unbelievable he hasn’t won for three years.

“But it has been a great month for me winning the German Masters, after such a long time myself and getting to the final of this is massive also.

“If someone had said to me before Christmas you would be a ranking event winner, the final of this at the Players Championship and a seed at the Crucible, I would have ripped your arm off for it.”


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