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Magnificent Shaun Murphy crushes Ali Carter for Players Championship title

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Shaun Murphy won the title last year, but will not defend his crown

Shaun Murphy soared to the Players Championship title after a dominant 10-4 victory over Ali Carter in the final on Sunday.

The Magician hit five centuries – taking his tally for the week to 11 – on the way to claiming the top prize of £125,000 at Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton.

Murphy, who subsequently climbs to sixth in the world rankings, ended his three-year silverware drought, having last triumphed at the 2020 Welsh Open

The Triple Crown winner also became only the 11th player in snooker history to win 10 ranking titles.

“The last few seasons, I’ve really struggled, but you’ve got to keep going, you’ve got to persevere,” he told ITV.

“There’s been a lot of honest conversations in front of mirrors; there’s been a lot of soul-searching.

“To not just win but to play like that, I’m going to put down as one of my biggest ever achievements in my career.

“Going up against someone like Ali – with the class he’s got, the month he’s had, the career he’s had – to play like that when I needed it the most, I’m really going to take that as a feather in my cap.”

Runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2018, Murphy arrived in his second Players Championship final having compiled six centuries during his victories over Judd Trump, Ryan Day and Kyren Wilson.

He picked up from where he left off with a stunning 145 total clearance in frame two – the highest break of the tournament – on the way to a 3-0 lead.

Targeting two ranking titles in the space of three weeks, German Masters champion Carter responded with a break of 122 as he won two of the next three frames to reduce the deficit.

However, a magnificent 141 total clearance put Murphy back in control, while he was denied a potential 147 in the final frame of the afternoon after missing a tricky final red with the rest.

Nevertheless, that run of 112 was more than enough to establish a commanding 6-2 advantage heading into the evening session, which began with another maximum attempt – though, this time, he broke down on 89 after missing a routine 12th black off its spot.

A run of 103 followed as he closed in on victory but Carter, who recovered from 4-2 down to defeat Joe O’Connor 6-4 in the semi-finals, rallied with 71 and 82 to boost his faint hopes of completing an unlikely turnaround.

Those vanished when he surrendered a 48-0 lead in frame 13; Murphy countering with 88, before sealing the deal with a sublime total clearance of 130.

“Shaun played great; I think he played the best all week,” Carter added. “There wasn’t really much of my game there today; I was struggling to find anything.

“Normally, my strongest points are my safety and I wasn’t finding the baulk cushion, and Shaun was potting every long ball he was looking at. When he’s on, we all saw tonight what happens and it’s unbelievable how he’s not won for three years.

“It’s been a great month. To win the German Masters was massive after such a long time. To get to the final of this tournament is massive also. Obviously we all want to be winners, but there’s only one winner at the end of the night, and that’s Shaun.”