Shaun Murphy has completed a remarkable China Championship victory after holding on to beat Mark Williams 10-9 in a dramatic final on Sunday in Guangzhou.
The Englishman’s eighth ranking event success sees him pocket £150,000 and a potentially lucrative invitation into the Champion of Champions.
Murphy also puts to rest the demons of an unenviable streak in title deciders that had him taste defeat the last six times he appeared at this stage in ranking events.
The “Magician” was on the losing side to a magnificent Judd Trump in the showpiece encounter of the International Championship last month and again to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Shanghai Masters – an invitation competition – earlier in September.
It was third time lucky in China this season and, perhaps fittingly, everything came around full circle for the 37 year-old.
It was in Guangzhou in 2017 where his run of negative results in finals all began, so this China Championship victory will firmly consign that disappointing era of his career to the past.
But not before he was made to work for it.
Murphy appeared to be coasting when he established a 9-5 advantage but Williams fought back in tremendous fashion to force the decider.
Before the late stumble Murphy was generally the better player, evidently focussed on eradicating the voodoo that had been hanging over him.
The opening exchanges suggested that a close contest was probable but Murphy managed to pull away during the second session.
While the Welshman boasted the day’s highest contribution, a wonderful 143 total clearance to lead 4-3, it was the three-time world champion’s failure to capitalise on early chances in frames that maybe ultimately cost him.
After Murphy scored a tremendous 133 to lead 5-4 after the first session, Williams immediately responded at the outset of the next by pinching the tenth frame on the black.
However, Murphy proceeded to win four frames on the spin, three of them after Williams had been in with the first opportunity.
The latter responded with a quick break to reduce the arrears to three and then took a marathon next frame as well to invoke memories of his last appearance in a ranking event final when he came from 9-5 down to prevail in a decider.
When Williams took another lengthy frame to pull back to within just one and subsequently fired in a brilliant century break to level, there was unexpectedly a new favourite.
But Murphy punched in a gutsy long red at the beginning of the final frame shootout en route to a telling break of 69 that finally helped him across the winning line.
Huge disappointment then for Williams in his 35th career ranking event final with his bid for a 23rd title ending in the narrowest of failures.
Murphy almost threw it all away but undoubtedly represents the player of the season so far and will head into a busy period on the calendar brimming with confidence.