Murphy breezes through to final

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The Independent Online

Shaun Murphy enhanced his growing reputation last night, with a commanding display to reach the Benson and Hedges Championship final in Malvern.

Shaun Murphy enhanced his growing reputation last night, with a commanding display to reach the Benson and Hedges Championship final in Malvern.

The 18-year-old from Irthlingborough overwhelmed his Sussex rival Mark Davis 6-1 in the opening semi-final of the £35,000 event at the Willie Thorne Snooker Club. His progress is now justifying the decision of the sport's governing body to name Murphy as one of their six young players of distinction.

"I'm honoured to be part of the scheme, but I don't feel under any extra pressure to get results," said Murphy, a semi-finalist in the recent IBSF World Championship.

Murphy, whose golfing father Tony played in the 1969 British Open, has looked full of confidence from his opening victory of seven in the competition and rarely looked in danger of losing against Davis.

"Hopefully I can iron out the mistakes before the final. I'm not bothered who I play next," said Murphy, who compiled two century breaks against the world 77 during his victory.

Murphy, who next plays either Andy Hicks or Stuart Bingham, is guaranteed £3,000 but the real prize is not even the £5,000 winner's cheque but the wild card entry that the champion gains to next year's B&H Masters, where first-round losers are guaranteed £10,500.

"I really fancied winning today but I just couldn't get into the match. I didn't play that well while Shaun punished all my mistakes," said Davis, from St Leonards-on-Sea, who pocketed £1,500 for his run to the semi-final stage.

On Tuesday night, Andy Hicks exorcised his deciding- frame nightmares to reach the last four and stay on course to becoming the first player to regain the B&H title.

The Tavistock left-hander, who defeated Scotland's IBSF world champion, Stephen Maguire, in the last 16 earlier in the day, has been haunted by a succession of 5-4 defeats in the past 18 months.

And when the former World and UK Championship semi-finalist was taken to the wire by David Gray, after leading 3-0 and 4-2, he feared the worst again as Gray led 61-0 in the decider. But Hicks held his nerve, and in two visits scraped into the semis for the first time since his 1997 tournament win.

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