Shaun Murphy and Mark Selby will collide in the 2021 World Snooker Championship final after overcoming Kyren Wilson and Stuart Bingham in their respective Semi-Finals at The Crucible.
The two former champions will vie to reclaim the sport’s most prestigious prize after each overturning first day deficits with unflappable displays in Sheffield on Saturday.
Murphy pulled off an incredible comeback from 10-4 down to defeat last year’s runner-up Wilson 17-12 and progress to a fourth world final.
The 2005 champion had won the final two frames on Friday to give himself a fighting chance and clinched six of the eight frames in the third session to level up at twelve apiece.
Murphy, whose most recent Crucible final appearance came six years ago, picked up from where he left off by sealing the first two frames of the evening session with breaks of 78 and 91.
Wilson was left stewing his seat after a clutch of key misses were emphatically punished by ‘The Magician’ – who went on to compile breaks of 117, 77 and 58 to complete the rout.
“I’d be struggling to find a time from so far behind in a match when I have played so well,” Murphy told BBC Sport.
“No one is more shocked than me, I’ve had a terrible run here over the last few years.
“It means so much to all of us, it means everything.
“I don’t have a problem with the fist pumps, I think we need that in sport. I don’t feel I was disrespectful to Kyren – I was celebrating my shots at my time.
“There has been a lot of soul searching and hard questions and trying to unravel the problems on the table.”
Murphy will face Selby for the 28th time in professional competition and a fourth time in a ranking final after the three-time World Champion edged out Bingham 17-15.
A marathon contest had to be settled in an unscheduled fifth session following the conclusion of Murphy’s win over Wilson, but Selby averted the need for a decider by securing the single frame he required for victory.
It was Bingham who led 13-11 going into the second half of the contest on Saturday, but a gruelling third session saw just seven frames contested.
Selby began the day with consecutive breaks of 68 and 125 to get back on level terms, with an hour-long 26th frame requiring two re-racks before eventually being settled with a century.
Bingham hit back immediately with a break of 100 to surpass the overall record total of centuries (100) before Selby battled his way back to parity at 14-14.
A break of 51 moved Selby back in front before a clinical clearance of 132 moved him to the verge of victory.
However, the Leicester ace broke down on 44 in the following frame, allowing Bingham to clear with an 85 break and prolong the match into an extra session.
Bingham had a chance to force a nail-biting decider but broke down on 54, and Selby stepped in to kill off the frame and progress to his fifth world final.
“I was having flashbacks of that happening again [2020 Semi-Final]. I did not want a decider,” Selby told BBC Sport.
“Stuart scores as well as anyone I’ve ever played against. Overall he probably played better than me but I felt I was just digging in and fighting against the run of the ball.
“The last year has been tough but all the hard work has been paying off and it’s just relief more than anything to get over the line there.”
In his post-match interview, Bingham hit out at Selby’s apparent slow play at various stages of the match, admitting: “Funnily enough, it’s the same player time in, time out. You’ve got to question that.
“Does he do it on purpose or what?
“There was one shot he took three minutes and then just rolled into the balls. It’s close to gamesmanship.
“Some other times, the balls went over the pocket and we were not giving each other an inch.
“It’s tough to lose a close game like that. Mark deserved the win, he came out firing and I had one of those days.”
World Snooker Championship 2021 Results
Saturday May 1
Mark Selby 17-15 Stuart Bingham
Shaun Murphy 17-12 Kyren Wilson