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China calling...

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

 

Hi everyone, So I thought it was about time that I updated my blog just in case you all thought I'd fallen off the face of the earth!

 

So much has happened since my last update what with all the snooker tournaments and of course our wedding but the biggest thing by far has been the birth of our first child, Harry.

Obviously people try to prepare you for the barrage of emotions that you go through in the build up and birth of your first child, but having now gone through it, I can firmly say that none of the advice I received came close to what it actually felt like.

 

I hadn't made a big thing about it during the pregnancy as everything was going smoothly and he was progressing well and I didn't want to be one of those people that floods Twitter or Facebook with pictures of their children.

 

But it's fair to say that the birth was anything but easy going. I would like to pay tribute to all the doctors and midwifery staff at Nottingham's QMC that helped us when we needed them most.

 

As any of you that have children will know, it changes everything. For me the biggest impact of recent times has been that I've found it difficult to lock myself away in my snooker room at home and spend the six to seven hours a day practising that I've always done and that has definitely had a knock-on effect on my performances of late. Having said that, I've been in some cracking games over the last two months and at times played some really good stuff. My fifth tournament 147 in the European Open against Allan Taylor (sorry mate) being the highlight. It was also little Harry's first trip to a snooker tournament so it was either him that made the difference or my new brown suit - the jury's out!

 

I wasn't really given much of a chance at the Shanghai Masters where Stephen Maguire thrashed me 0-5 - a long way to go for a whitewash! Mark Davis played really well against me in Romania as did Liang Wenbo in Manchester. I knew he was in good form and was pleased for him to win his first ranking event.

 

Last week my quarter final with the Juddernaut was a fantastic match to be part of, going down to the very final black in the final frame. At least I now know a little of how Steve Davis felt in 1985!

 

Anyway the snooker tour has continued to grow at pace and we've really covered some ground this season already. Tournaments in Latvia, India, China, Romania and the UK seem to have flown by and we're not even half way though yet! We're in Guangzhou this week for a brand new event, the Evergrande China Championship which we're all looking forward to. This week I'm up against Joe Perry and it's sure to be a good game.

 

Having said that, they all are these days. The standard on show from all the top boys at the moment is absolutely ridiculous - the bar just keeps getting lifted every week. With just 16 of the world’s best players on show this week, any of the matches could be the final of any event so look out for great things. The table playing conditions are likely to be completely different here in Guangzhou compared to last week in Daqing where the humidity level was just 16% so this will have an effect, especially as the tournament develops. Watch out for lots of shots missed down cushions, kicks and big bounces as friction between the balls and cushions increase as the outside temperature and humidity impacts on with the tables inside.

 

As many of you will have seen recently on Twitter I've recently signed with the ISM management group, headed by Chubby Chandler. It's great to be part of their setup and feels really good to be involved with them. These guys have been and are doing great things in the golf world, managing the careers of many top stars like Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke and Danny Willett to name a few. And so this week after my defeat to Judd Trump in the International Championship I took the short flight to Shanghai to watch some of the play at the HSBC Champions event at the She Shan Golf Club, and wow what a day it was. It was a real privilege getting to watch these guys at close quarters go about their work both on and off the course and really inspired me to get back on the practice table for the rest of the season as they really do put the hours in!

 

There's a constant debate in sport about practice schedules and how much you should or shouldn't be doing and it's a question I'm asked regularly on Twitter and Youtube. The truth is that I don't think there is one answer for everyone but in general, the more practice you can do the better. I don't believe in ‘over practising’ and my tips to any young players out there would be to do as much as you possibly can. However you must be careful: as the saying goes ‘practice makes permanent’. If you're practising hour after hour you must make sure that the habits you're forming are the right ones, as bad habits, especially those repeated for a long time are the hardest to change.

 

Another topic that does the rounds is burn-out. I recently said on Twitter that I don't believe in burn-out in snooker. Many people seemed confused by my comment so to clarify I thought I'd try to clear it up here. I think the problem lies with the word itself. What is burn-out? What do we mean by it? Do we mean mental fatigue, frustration with poor runs of form, homesickness?

 

It is impossible to play at your peak all the time and with that in mind, players are starting to pick and choose events to build their season around the big tournaments. This isn't burn-out, this is clever planning.

 

I think after Mark Selby pulled out of last season’s Tour Championships and China Opens to rest and prepare for the World Championship that he went on to win, proves that. I think we'll see much more of it now. Travelling to Beijing and messing up your entire sleeping pattern just two weeks or so before a potential 17 days competition in Sheffield isn't easy and if, like Mark, you're streets ahead at the top of the rankings, staying at home seems a good option to me.

 

Obviously if you're on the bubble for a seeding cut off then that's different and you have a different choice to make. Tennis players and golfers don't play every week for this very reason, and the busier the snooker calendar becomes, the more of it we will see. This is before we mention our lives back home with our families and children etc.

 

If I'm honest, burn-out seems to be a word used by journalists and commentators more often than players, as they look to justify a players’ poor form or results. In my

Opinion, this is just the way sport is and sometimes, in fact more often than not, you lose. That's just the way sport is.

 

Anyway guys I'm off to the practice room here in Guangzhou and will be spending as much time as possible in there and hopefully have a good run this week. It's Champion of Champions in Coventry next week followed by the Irish Open in Belfast the week after in the run up to the UK Championship and the end of the month in York, so now is definitely a good time to run in to some good form.

 

I've been really encouraged by some of the green shoots of improvement I've seen in my game of recent weeks and although I haven't collected any silverware since the World Grand Prix earlier this year, I firmly believe good times are just around the corner for team Murphy.

 

Until next time,

Shaun

 

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