Shaun Murphy has sprung back to life at the World Snooker Championship this year after a very quiet season and he puts his return to form down to a return to the attacking flair of years gone by.
The Magician came into the Crucible this year with little or no fanfare and quietly progressed through round one with a win over Mark Davis.
He then showed signs of what was to come with a thoroughly impressive 13-7 victory over Masters champion Yan Bingtao, but few were expecting him to then down the world number one in the quarter-finals.
That’s exactly what he did, though, as he ousted Judd Trump with a fine 13-11 win, booking his place in the semi-finals for the first time in six years where he will meet Kyren Wilson, starting on Thursday night.
Particularly in the middle session against Trump, Murphy showed his superb attacking instincts, making big breaks and commanding the table.
He has made six centuries this event, including a tournament high of 144 as he strides around the table with purpose and presence.
It has looked like the Murphy of old, who has won the biggest titles in the sport and he says this is a purposeful move to shake off the shackles of restraint and temperance, allowing himself to play freely and find his best form.
‘That’s my natural style, that’s the way I am as a person,’ said Murphy after beating Trump. ‘If we go and play golf I’ll hit a driver on every hole, I’ll go at every flag, that’s who I am.
‘If we go to a casino I’ll be on the roulette table every night, that’s what I’m like. If I ever get to go on Soccer AM I’ll be on the top bin, that’s who I am.
‘But in the last few years, in an effort to cut out those silly little mistakes I’ve gone a lot slower, I’ve really slowed myself down on purpose to try and be more in the conscious zone, if you like, thinking that will help me make fewer mistakes. In fact, it’s done nothing but put the blockers on really and put my brakes on.
‘As well as the technical things I’ve worked on in the last few weeks, I came here thinking: “You know what? I’m going to go back to my old way, get moving round the table and try and make it happen.”
‘It’s something I’ve found very hard to hold back, but I really felt like I was on a journey of improvement. I really felt that by being a bit more moderated in my approach, by being a bit more careful it would lead to better results. What it actually led to was less fun and enjoyment, so, I’m back!
‘It is very liberating. That kid out there, he can play. The lad who’s been out for the last couple of years is a faker.’
Murphy and Wilson begin their semi-final at 7pm on Thursday with Shaun looking to get to the final for a fourth time and win a second world title, while Kyren is looking for back-to-back final appearances but to lift the trophy for a first time.
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