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Motivated Murphy sets up O’Sullivan clash in Masters semi-finals

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Murphy vowed to stick with his trademark attacking game after beating Lisowski (Taka Wu / Alamy Stock Photo)

Shaun Murphy admits he has “finally learned” to stick with his attacking style of play after booking his place in the Masters semi-finals.

The 2015 champion advanced to the last four at Alexandra Palace, where he will play Ronnie O’Sullivan following a 6-3 victory over Jack Lisowski on Thursday.

Murphy hit two centuries and a further two breaks over 70 as he progressed to the semi-finals of the event for only the second time since lifting the trophy nine years ago.

The Magician, who had lost his previous three meetings with Lisowski, stormed into a 5-1 lead with contributions of 75, 131, 76 and 123 along the way.

Although his opponent won the next two frames to keep his hopes alive, he sealed victory as he knocked in a stunning long black along the side rail with the cue ball close to the baulk cushion.

Murphy believes that shot epitomises a newfound desire to persist with his swift trademark attacking game, which he famously utilised while winning the World Championship in 2005 as well as the Masters 10 years later, having felt he had lost his way in recent times.

“That’s how I’m going to play now until I retire,” he said. “I’ve finally learned after 20-odd years on the tour that I should stick to my game – get on with it, get my average shot time down – and that’s what brings the best out of me.

“I just realised I’ve got to get on with it. I’m much better when I get on my toes, I bounce around the table and I play with aggression and attack like I did at 11 years of age.

“It’s not going to win me every game; it’s not going to win me every tournament. But that’s how I play my best snooker, that’s how I enjoy myself out there, and that’s what it’s all about.

“I won three tournaments last year. Even with that, I’d slipped into second or third gear. I’d gone very slow. My rev counter was way down. I’d started looking at things for far too long. I’d started to go a little bit careful and cautious.

“In the UK Championship, my average shot time dipped to nearly 30 seconds. That’s ridiculously slow for anyone. But for me, that’s really slow as well.

“I know what shot to play; I don’t need to look around the table four times. We all know what to do; it’s only that anxiety and desire of wanting to be perfect that slows you down. Of course, everyone’s different, but it doesn’t do me any favours and I’ve finally learned that.”