2005 World Champion and Triple Crown winner Shaun Murphy survived a Ronnie O’Sullivan fightback to win the 188BET Champion of Champions final by a 10-8 scoreline at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
Murphy had led the best of 19 final 9-5 before O’Sullivan surged back into contention, taking the score to 9-8, and he looked set to level until he missed
the green, allowing Murphy to seal his victory, claiming the title and the £100,000 winner’s prize that comes with it.
Murphy said: “These are the moments you live for as a snooker player.
“Ronnie is the best player of all time, the best player we have seen and the ultimate test. To play him in a big, big final and get to ten first – because I very nearly didn’t – is an amazing feeling.”
O’Sullivan led early in the match at 0-2 but four consecutive frames saw Murphy gain a two-frame advantage. The Rocket fought back but, with the scores tied at 4-4, the final frame of the afternoon session saw a dramatic conclusion.
Murphy, four points behind, missed the black to the bottom right pocket, seemingly setting up the five-time World Champion to take a lead into the evening session. But he also missed to the same pocket allowing Murphy to make a long but straight-forward pocket to lead 5-4.
The Magician then came out firing in the evening, taking the first three frames for a commanding 8-4 advantage and he looked set to move to within one of the title before he went in off with just the colours remaining. O’Sullivan made no mistake in punishing the Gibraltar Masters champion.
Murphy moved a step closer to the title with a 71 clearance for 9-5, but then O’Sullivan mounted his comeback. First, he took a scrappy 15th frame 31-76 and then the final’s only century, a 108, put The Rocket just two behind Murphy. O’Sullivan looked set to force the decider until be missed the green at, allowing Murphy to the table to finish the match.
Murphy added: “We call it dead-man syndrome – people play like they have got nothing to lose and he started going for shots which we all know he can get, and they started going in.
“I don’t feel that I did a great deal wrong to be honest and had the match gone to a deciding frame I wouldn’t have been banging my head against a wall. But against somebody like Ronnie it can happen, and the match can turn like that. Fortunately, he missed the green at the end and I was able to clear up.”
Murphy becomes the first player to qualify for the next Champion of Champions, which will be staged at Ricoh Arena, Coventry from 5-11 November 2018.
Shaun Murphy 10-8 Ronnie O’Sullivan31-103 (O’Sullivan 97), 27-98 (O’Sullivan 98), 66-63, 70-1 (Murphy 70), 92-27 (Murphy 85), 82-7 (Murphy 53), 0-134 (O’Sullivan 65, 61), 32-105 (O’Sullivan 72), 57-54, 92-39 (Murphy 86), 83-37, 134-0 (Murphy 56, 74), 46-83, 83-17 (Murphy 71), 31-76 (O’Sullivan 54), 0-132 (O’Sullivan 108), 1-106 (68, 38), 74-71