Tour Championship snooker latest: Mark Allen wins final-frame decider to beat Shaun Murphy

Mark Allen

Mark Allen came from behind to beat Shaun Murphy 9-8 and complete the semi-final line-up at snooker's Tour Championship.

In another high-quality encounter, which saw Murphy suffer defeat despite making six centuries, it was Allen who held firm in the final frame, capitalising on a fluke red with a match-winning break.

Though it was a cruel way for Murphy to exit, he'd enjoyed moments of fortune himself, both when drawing level at the end of the afternoon session and again in the evening, as he crept towards the finish line.

When he registered his sixth century to make it 8-7, it seemed his superior scoring would finally prove the difference, but Allen is nothing if not tough and won a scrappy 16th frame, before giving the Magician a dose of his own medicine with a controlled and ultimately decisive contribution of 62.

Murphy made six of the seven centuries in the match, and led by two early on in the evening, only for Allen to take four of the final five frames and somehow turn things around.

"To have six (centuries) in a best of 17 is decent," said a typically magnanimous Murphy. "Having gone through what we've all gone through, and not really played any snooker at all - to play like that was very, very pleasing.

"I'm left licking the wounds. Mark's beat me now twice over best of 17, and in both matches he's fluked match ball! If we have a fair fight, maybe I might win the next one."

Earlier, Murphy had fluked a frame-winning red to send the match into the evening session locked at 4-4.

Murphy had missed a big chance to win the final frame before Allen did the same, and a messy end to the afternoon saw the two engage in a tactical battle over the final red.

Allen appeared to have landed a killer blow when laying a dangerous snooker, the spectre of a free ball looming should Murphy fail to hit it. But the former world champion managed not only to make contact, but to flick the red off the black and into the pocket.

That was frame ball and earned him parity, though while the manner was cruel, the outcome was probably deserved.

Murphy's previous three frames had each been won with a century as he looked generally the more fluent of the two, though Allen's delicate touch among the balls was on full display in a 100 break of his own.

It was no surprise then that Murphy took the match by the scruff of the neck when play resumed, a break of 100 earning him the lead before he moved two clear for the first time by taking frame 10.

Allen hit back only for a 131 break to see Murphy re-establish his two-frame cushion at 7-5, but this time Allen responded with breaks of 76 and 74 to draw level again at 7-7.

One final century from Murphy was enough to equal Stephen Maguire's total from Saturday, a joint-record in a best-of-17 match. But whereas Allen's scoring blitz saw him close the door, Murphy left it ajar - and Allen strode through.

A scrappy 16th frame suited the Northern Irishman down to the ground, halting Murphy's momentum, and then came a break of 62 which was worth just as much as any one of those centuries.

Midway through it a nerveless red to middle signalled that Allen was in ruthless mood, and so it proved as he left behind a modest run of pre-pandemic form to make it through to the last four.

It's his seventh semi-final of a strange season, one in which he's yet to make a final. Perhaps the confidence gained by this act of escapology will prove to be the missing ingredient.

"I was just patient all day - I didn't have my best stuff, but I fought really, really hard," said Allen. "I was really good mentally, all day. Shaun missed a few when he was in, so I felt like I was going to get chances.

"The turning point for me was the two seventies that I made, from 7-5 to 7-7. That was the first time I really felt comfortable throughout the whole match. I played pretty well to close it out - even with the nice fluke!

"There's a lot of good players left in the tournament, there's no easy games. But if I play to my capabilities, I'm not really scared of anyone - I never have been."

Daily schedule & results

  • Matches played over two sessions, beginning at 1330 BST and 1900 BST
  • Quarter-finals and semi-finals best of 17 frames; final best of 19
  • * denotes latest score between sessions

Saturday June 20

  • Neil Robertson 5-9 Stephen Maguire

Sunday June 21

  • Judd Trump 9-4 John Higgins

Monday June 22

  • Mark Selby 9-6 Yan Bingtao

Tuesday June 23

  • Shaun Murphy 8-9 Mark Allen

Wednesday June 24

  • Judd Trump v Stephen Maguire

Thursday June 25

  • Mark Selby v Mark Allen

Friday June 26

  • Final

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