Shaun Murphy won his fifth ranking event title on Sunday after a hard-fought 10-6 victory over Mark Selby in the Haikou World Open.
The Englishman held on for his first success in a main ranker for almost exactly three years to continue his resurgence of late.
In doing so, Murphy also inflicts another defeat on Selby, who has picked up a bad habit of losing at the final hurdle of tournaments.
Former world and UK champion Murphy was in dominant form in the opening session as he knocked in a flurry of sizable breaks to open up a 7-2 advantage, which ultimately proved enough of a lead in the end despite a spirited comeback from his opponent.
Murphy was unable to reproduce the same kind of form in the second session as he had done in the first, where he compiled breaks of 64, 80, 52, 98, 105 and 112, but was able to grind out the victory against his fellow Englishman in China.
The triumph comes only weeks after the 31 year-old emerged victorious in the Gdynia Open, which in itself ended a drought of 29 months between silverware captured by the ‘Magician’.
And nobody can argue that Murphy doesn’t deserve his return to form as he has certainly put the effort in to achieve it.
The 2005 world champion has gone on a fitness regime that has led to a weight loss of more than two stone, giving him better physical and mental energy at crucial moments in matches.
Highlighting this were his defeats of Ding Junhui and Graeme Dott, which both came through ways of deciding frame thrillers, and also the two-time defending champion Mark Allen in a tight semi-final contest that ended 6-4.
Murphy rode his luck a little in the previous two encounters as well, but every champion needs a little bit of that to earn sustained success.
Perhaps that’s something that Murphy’s challenger today needs if he is to reverse his own voodoo in ranking events.
Selby has now been on the losing side of the scoreline in eight of the 11 finals he has contested – though it is always worth remembering that the 30 year-old has won three invitational Masters events.
Selby’s fans are quick to defend the ‘Jester’ but, to be perfectly honest, three titles from that amount of finals is simply not good enough if he wants to be considered to be one of the all-time greats in years to come, despite, of course, formerly holding the world no.1 position.
He’s a fantastic player and competitor but, as the old saying goes, there are no prizes for second place – although I guess Selby did collect a cool £35,000 for finishing runner-up in Hainan.
The moment belongs to Murphy, though, and with the form he is producing he must be playing his way into the mix of World Championship favourites, especially having been triumphant at the Crucible before in 2005.
One final comment is reserved for the crowds over the past week, which were awful and one of, if not, the worst for any ranking event this season.