Shaun Murphy has his friend to thank for helping him get match fit ahead of his second-round UK Championship tie with Judd Trump on Thursday.
The Magician suffered from a recurrence of a long-term issue with his back and neck ahead of the last-16 fixture in York.
Prior of the contest, Murphy had tweeted about the injury, leading some to wonder if he was about to pull out of the tournament.
However, the 2008 UK champion dug deep and produced a marvellous display given the circumstances, compiling a hat-trick of century breaks in a gripping 6-5 triumph over his fellow Englishman.
“When the tournament ends, however it ends, I’ll look back and probably rank that very highly in my career in terms of match turnarounds,” Shaun Murphy told the World Snooker Tour.
“At 5-3 down, I was ready to come in here and give you the loser’s speech. I was well-prepared to say, ‘you know what, I played really well today, didn’t make that many mistakes, but Judd was just better.'”
“Then I got the first chance in frame nine, ten, and eleven and put together winning breaks in most of them, so I’m absolutely delighted.
“Had I not been able to go across York and find one of these massage guns that are all the rage, which I usually travel with but had forgotten to bring unbelievably, I’d have pulled out.
In terrible pain today with my neck / shoulder. Started getting worse two days ago and I could hardly play at all yesterday. Going to try everything to be ready to play at 1pm but right now it’s not looking good 😞
— Shaun Murphy (@Magician147) November 17, 2022
“I was in absolute agony this morning, I woke up and I couldn’t turn my head to the left, I couldn’t tilt my head.
“It’s only because, for my warm-up time this morning, instead of being in the practice room warming up for the game, I was laying on the floor and my friend Robbie who travels with me was battering me with a massage gun into the back.
“That’s the only reason I played, and hopefully we’ll see how it goes for the rest of the event.
“You look back in your career, if I’d pulled out and gone home…I’d have to be unable to play to pull out, but this morning it was very close.
“I came in to practice last night, and my practice session lasted four or five minutes only. I was in too much pain.
“We’re not allowed to take some of the super-duper meds that other people are, obviously with the drugs in sport issue.
“That’s quite a tight-knit procedure, so within what we’re allowed to do I dosed up as much as I could pre-match, did lots of stretching, and lots of painful massage.
“If you see me in the quarter-finals, it means I’m okay and willing to go through the pain. If it’s too much, I’ll be out.”
Murphy will be hoping the pain eases as he prepares to take on Jack Lisowski in the quarter-finals of the competition on Friday.
The 40 year-old has a strong record in the ranking event, with six previous appearances in the semi-finals under his belt.
Draw and Schedule
Friday, November 18th
Sam Craigie vs Mark Allen (9)
Jack Lisowski (12) vs Shaun Murphy (13)
Joe Perry vs Tom Ford
Ding Junhui vs Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)
The semi-finals take place on the 19th. The final is on Sunday, November 20th.
Featured photo credit: WST