Shaun Murphy became the tenth man to win snooker’s Triple Crown as he stunned Neil Robertson 10-2 at Alexandra Palace to win the Masters.
World No 1 Robertson had lit up the Alexandra Palace with his form in 6-1 wins over Ali Carter and Ronnie O’Sullivan but found himself 5-0 down as Murphy dominated the final.
Murphy had two 127 breaks and four more breaks over 60 as he added this title to his World Championship from 2005 and UK Championship of 2008.
The Englishman said: “The first time I came to this great event, I would have been 11 or 12 and to finally get the win and the crown is unbelievable.
“When I won the World Championship ten years ago I thought I was going to blitz through these events but I’ve had to wait a long time and go through some ups and downs. This time last year I considered going away from snooker a bit but I’ve turned it around. I’ve got some great support, some great friends and family around me, and they all know who they are.”
As well as his break-building feats, Murphy won a number of scrappy frames as he avenged his 10-6 defeat to Robertson in the 2012 final – notably the first of the evening session, in which the Australian was first in with 51.
Murphy said: “I remember a few years ago he nicked a few of those tight frames and they really hurt. I had a bit of luck throughout the match but in all I’ve played well this week.”
Murphy took the opening frame with a 64 and the second after Robertson had battled on for snookers on the colours. The first of his centuries made it 3-0 and though he missed a long opening red in the next, Robertson’s own long potting continued to let him down as he missed a brown and Murphy, following a lovely shot to free the black, took his chance with 76 to sweep the pre-interval frames.
The first frame back was poor but Murphy stepped up with 43 to the pink to take it. An 80 in frame six finally got Robertson on the board but Murphy knocked in a good starter in the next and converted it into a frame-winning 69 – along the way potting two reds in one shot.
Robertson won the final frame of the session, but with the pressure on him to start well in the evening session and keep the game alive, he threw away the first frame following his half-century. It came down to a safety battle on the green but after Robertson fluked a snooker, Murphy got one back and cleared to the blue. He then tucked the pink behind the black and when Robertson pushed it over a pocket, Murphy finished. The next was in no such doubt, Murphy with a second masterful 127, and he extended his lead to 9-2 before finishing the job with a 60 break.
Robertson said: “The first session was very tough, being 6-2 down. It was probably a couple of shots that made the difference between being 4-4 and being 6-2 down. Shaun played very well today, he played fantastically all week. I just couldn’t produce the snooker that got me to the final but you have to put a lot of that down to the way Shaun played. He was brilliant in all departments and I’d just like to say, welcome to the Triple Crown club. This is our second Masters final and hopefully, the way we’ve both played the last few weeks, we’ll have a few more.”
Murphy quipped in reply: “I’ve got to disagree with Neil, I don’t want to play him ever again! If that’s what it takes to be world number one, I’ll stay as number 11!”
Murphy joins Robertson, Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Terry Griffiths, Alex and John Higgins, Mark Williams and Mark Selby in having won all the World, UK and Masters titles.
Meanwhile, snooker’s World Championship will remain at its Crucible Theatre home in Sheffield until at least 2017.
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn made the announcement during yesterday’s Masters final.
Hearn said: “It is really good news and we love the uniqueness of Sheffield. We have always said that while we have the support of Sheffield and the BBC, nothing changes. We have reached an agreement with the council to stay there until 2017.”
The tournament moved to the South Yorkshire venue in 1977, when it was won for the third time by John Spencer. Hendry leads the way with seven Crucible wins, with six for Davis and five for last year’s runner-up O’Sullivan.