It may not be the most glamorous of locales, but the large area of rock that forms Gibraltar, extending out from the Spanish coastline, provided rich pickings for Shaun Murphy.
Murphy, who is a quick player and a strong break-builder when on form, soaked up the sun as the Mediterranean emerged from the winter to secure an important victory, clinching the Gibraltar Open
. Although he has played well this season, and has reached four semi-finals, Murphy hasn’t troubled the tournaments he has played in for first prizes.
In the final Murphy faced Judd Trump
, a player long-expected to be world champion yet one whose talent has frustratingly yielded few first prizes (his best run this season has been to the final of the Welsh Open). To reach the final, Murphy swept past veteran Nigel Bond 4-0 in the semi-final, compiling breaks of 137 and 140. Impressive as these breaks were, the highest break of the tournament went to Jack Lisowski who made a break of 145 in his fourth round win over Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen. Prior to this Murphy had seen off the in-form Barry Hawkins and twice former world champion Mark Williams.
In his semi-final, Trump, aged 27, came from 0-2 behind to defeat Ryan Day 4-2 aided by breaks of 84 and 91. Earlier, Trump had accounted for Lisowski 4-1.
The final, contested over the best of seven frames, represents a relatively short match for a ranking event. Nonetheless the final, referred by Peggy Li, produced a thrilling match. Trump won the opening frame without Murphy potting a ball. The 117-0 point win was aided by a break of 59. Murphy won a closer second frame 83 to 45, before Trump moved 2-1 ahead with a run of 84 (and securing his second frame without his opponent potting a ball).
From then on Murphy, aged 34, dominated the proceedings. A break of 60 secured the fourth frame. This was followed by a closely contested sixth frame where both players made breaks of 56. However, it was Murphy who was able to grab the next scoring opportunity, clearing from yellow to pink, with the frame going to Murphy 76-56. In what proved to be the final frame of the match, Trump knocked in a superb long red and built up a break of 34. However, an unexpected miss let Murphy in for a break of 96 to clinch the match and a 4 frames to 2 win.
The title was Murphy's first since the World Grand Prix Open last March. In winning he earned the modest (in snooker terms) €25,000 ($20,000) pay check.
The frame scores were (Murphy first):
0-117 (59), 83-45, 0 -84 (84), 75-7 (60), 76-56 (56 SM, 56 JT), 96-34 (96)