Welsh Open 2023: Shaun Murphy battles into first final for two years with win over Pang Junxu

Shaun Murphy ended his two-year wait to play in a snooker final after he battled his way to a 6-3 victory against Pang Junxu in the second Welsh Open semi-final.

In a match of two halves, the opening four frames were tight and cagey, before Murphy stamped his authority as Pang failed to take several opportunities.

Murphy will play Robert Milkins in Sunday’s final, which is his first since finishing runner-up to Mark Selby at the 2021 World Championship.

Welsh Open

‘This was a big night for me’ – Murphy reacts to reaching Welsh Open final


“It probably got to me if anything, that was a big night for me,” Murphy said in the Eurosport studio.

“When you’re one of the big four or five names, you’re in semis and finals all the time. That hasn’t been my career the last few seasons.

“For me, I lost in the semis at the World Grand Prix, semis at the Turkish [Masters] and apart from that it’s been such a quiet few seasons. Tonight meant so much and I probably let it get to me a little bit.”

‘This was a big night for me’ – Murphy reacts to reaching Welsh Open final

It was a story of missed chances in the early stages, a running theme for much of the match, before Pang made a break of 49 to leave Murphy needing snookers.

Smartly, Pang laid a snooker of his own but Murphy played a ridiculous trick shot by wobbling the white in the jaws of the bottom right pocket to make it travel up the table, off the top cushion and into the red which was hanging over the right middle pocket, so dropped in.

The former world champion shared a joke with the crowd after the incredible shot, but it was Pang who had the last laugh when he went on to win the first frame.

Murphy wins black ball frame to level the scores against Pang

There was more drama when Murphy won a black ball frame after missing the final pink twice when he was put in a difficult snooker. Then, Murphy came from behind with some great shot-making to take a 2-1 lead.

Frame four came down to the colours with Pang eight points ahead. Murphy missed the yellow twice after being put in a snooker, conceding 10 points, but missed a chance to win the frame when he wobbled the blue.

Pang took advantage to make it all square at the mid-session interval after two hours and 10 minutes.

More drama as Pang wins fourth frame on the colours

The underdog had two good chances in the fifth but could only make a 24 and tried to pot a red into a bottom right pocket which was predominantly covered by the pink. It didn’t work and Murphy capitalised with a frame-winning break of 48 as he visibly picked up the pace.

It was a similar pattern in the next frame, this time Murphy making a speedy 58 to go two frames ahead, but Pang pulled one back after capitalising on a fluke to knock in a 62, his highest break of the match.

Pang was in again but missed a routine red to the corner while Murphy threw a black off its spot wide and reacted with frustration.

There was more scrappy play as the pressure ramped up, with neither player able to score big. Eventually, Murphy slotted a long red in and made a frame-winning contribution of 29 to move one away from the final.

Peng left a red for Murphy at the start of frame eight, which proved to be the final blow because ‘The Magician’ played some stunning stuff with a break of 83 to seal the match.

Watch the moment Murphy beats Pang to reach Welsh Open final

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Welsh Open

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Welsh Open

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