In-form snooker ace Shaun Murphy is eagerly awaiting the UK Championship in York and believes he will be one of the leading contenders for the famous title.
The £700,000 tournament at the York Barbican starts in just six weeks, with 128 of the world’s leading players to compete for the trophy in the BBC-televised event.
Murphy played superbly to win the recent Bulgarian Open, conceding just seven frames in winning seven matches as he romped to his third title of 2014.
“I get a sense that I might be in the mix in York, particularly if I can keep playing the way I am now,” said the 32-year-old Manchester-based cueman. “There’s a lot of snooker to be played between now and then, but it’s nice to know that I’m in form at the moment.
“As soon as the season gets going, the players have got one eye on the UK Championship because it’s our biggest event other than the World Championship. I just can’t wait to be there and get stuck in.”
Murphy won the UK title in 2008, beating Marco Fu 10-9 in the final, and also reached the final two years ago before losing 10-6 to Mark Selby.
“My abiding memory of 2008 is fluking the pink in the last frame which got me over the line,” he recalls. “I went through my whole pre-shot routine, lined it up and then missed the pot by miles. Luckily it went around the table and into another pocket. Lifting the trophy was a very proud moment for me.
“In 2012 I played some of the best snooker of my life to come from 8-4 down against Ali Carter in the semi-finals to win 9-8. I’ll never forget that match, but it was disappointing not to play the same way in the final.”
Last year, World Snooker considered moving the tournament away from the Barbican to a bigger venue, but ultimately decided to keep it in the Yorkshire city. “The players were unanimously delighted because we love York,” Murphy added. “The crowds are always very good there, the people are very enthusiastic about snooker, plus it’s a beautiful city.”
Former World Champion Murphy also approves of the new format introduced for the tournament last year, with all 128 players starting in the same round. “It throws up a few surprises early on which goes to show the strength in depth in snooker,” he said. “It is the fairest format and that can only be good for the sport.”
The UK Championship runs from November 25 to December 7. Tickets are ON SALE NOW and start at just £8 (concessions £4). All 128 players will be in action during the first three days (November 25-27) before television coverage starts so fans are urged to book for those three days. For details call 0844 854 2757 or visitwww.worldsnooker.com/tickets