China Championship Final
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China Championship Final: Mark Williams vs Shaun Murphy

The China Championship final will be contested between former world champions Mark Williams and Shaun Murphy in Guangzhou on Sunday.

Murphy ended the reign of Mark Selby with a 6-3 victory over the defending champion while Williams held on to complete a dramatic deciding frame triumph against Hossein Vafaei.

The latter had appeared to be coasting when he led the Iranian 4-0 and 5-2, but Vafaei fought back splendidly to force the final frame.

It took an outrageous pot from Williams to set him on his way to the crucial break of 91 that ultimatly took him through to the title decider.

Murphy was also involved in a gruelling encounter but emerged against the former world number one after a battle that lasted almost four hours.

It prolongs a remarkable streak for the “Magician”, who has now reached the final in each of the last three tournaments staged in China.

Murphy finished as the runner-up in both the International Championship last month to Judd Trump and the Shanghai Masters earlier in September to Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Indeed, finals haven’t been the 37 year-old’s specialty in recent times as he’s found himself on the losing side the last six times he’s appeared at this stage in ranking events.

That he’s getting himself into these positions to win is of course a promising sign, but the fact that he has struggled to get over the winning line will, in turn, obviously be a cause for concern.

Murphy’s opponents in those finals have often been proven winners and that kind of pressure doesn’t let up in the form of Williams.

For the Welshman, this run to the China Championship final marks the 35th time that he’s reached the showpiece encounter in a ranking tournament.

Williams has triumphed in his last four appearances at this stage and 22 times in total, making him the fifth most prolific winner in the sport’s history.

The 44 year-old, who last collected silverware in last year’s World Open, rode his luck a little against Vafaei but will fancy his chances of adding another trophy to his glittering cabinet.

With Murphy’s recent history surely in the back of his memory, one would suspect that Williams boasts the psychological edge.

Interestingly, though, Murphy does possess the marginally superior head-to-head advantage and did win their last tie only a couple of weeks ago when they crossed paths in the last 16 in Shanghai.

Whether the 2005 Crucible champion can recover from his struggles at this hurdle remains to be seen.

While there’s already a £150,000 top prize to fight for, another dangling carrot is the prospect of the winner receiving an invite to the potentially lucrative Champion of Champions invitational in November.

The China Championship may not be the most memorable of events on the calendar but there’s a lot at stake as the third ranking comp of the season reaches its climax this weekend.

Live coverage of the China Championship final is on Eurosport.

Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)

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