Shaun Murphy ended a two-year wait for a ranking title by edging out Mark Williams in a dramatic last-frame decider to claim China Championship glory in Guangzhou on Sunday.
Murphy, appearing in his third consecutive final this season, ended a run of six consecutive defeats in ranking finals to claim the £150,000 top prize for the first time.
The 37-year-old, who finished runner-up in the 2017 China Championship, held off a spirited fightback from the Welsh veteran to edge over the line in a tense decider.
Williams had reeled off four consecutive frames from 9-5 down to send the match the distance, but Murphy dug deep to produce a decisive 69 break to seal glory.
“I was getting very uncomfortable as he came back to 9-9,” Murphy told World Snooker. “It was horrible – I felt sick, I couldn’t breathe or see straight.”The 69 I made was one of the best breaks of my life bearing in mind what had gone on before. To stand up there under the pressure and take my chance – I’m very proud. It has to go down as one of my best performances.”I wasn’t aware I had lost my last six ranking finals until one of the journalists told me, maybe that gave me the kick I needed today. “It’s a massive win for me because it gets me into a lot of other events which I wasn’t in last year. It’s rewarding to know that the things I have been practising are working.”
Murphy took a low-scoring opening frame of the final before making a 64 break to double his lead early on.
Williams replied with successive breaks of 73 and 70 to level before taking frame five to hit the front for the first time.
A 54 break from Murphy in frame six was countered by a sensational clearance of 143 from the 2018 World Champion to regain the upper-hand at 4-3.
Murphy, though, responded strongly with a break of 64 to restore parity before following in with a majestic break of 133 to take a 5-4 lead into the second session.
Williams levelled again after the restart with a half century before Murphy rattled off four consecutive frames with breaks of 75, 76, 103 and 79 to charge to within a frame of victory.
Williams, however, kick-started the revival with a break of 74 before battling his way to the next two frames to pile on the pressure.
The left-hander then powered in an effortless break of 132 to set up a grandstand finish, but fell narrowly short of completing the comeback as Murphy made a 69 break before returning to pot a long red and seal his eighth ranking title.
The triumph secures Murphy a place in November’s Champion of Champions and leaves just two places up for grabs.
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