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  Sunday, 4 February, 2001, 22:56 GMT
Murphy's got the right stuff
BBC Sport's snooker correspondent Clive Everton looks at outsider Shaun Murphy as he prepares to face Stephen Hendry in the Benson and Hedges Masters at Wembley.

Shaun Murphy showed exceptional talent and composure on his television debut by beating world number 15, Marco Fu, 6-1.

After making breaks of 113 and 102 to lead 3-0, he was within sight of becoming the first player in the 26-year history of the Masters to make centuries in three consecutive frames before he lost ideal position for the green and left it on the lip of the pocket.

Murphy is only 18 but snooker has been his passion since the age of eight, when he told his father he wanted to be the best player in the world.

"The last ten years have been spent preparing for today," he said.

Teenage pro

Snooker insiders have been aware of his potential for years, and his father Tony took him out of the education system and organised private tuition for him around his practice sessions.

He lives in Irthlingborough, Northamptonshire, near the headquarters of Dr Martens footwear, who gave him a five-year contract and used him as the warm-up act for league matches staged in the company's own indoor arena.


I thought he was the business
Dennis Taylor
He turned pro just before his 16th birthday, and in his first season reached the final of an event on the Challenge Tour.

Last season he won the English Open, which accepts entries from both amateur and professional players, although the prize money is too low to attract the top players.

To qualify for Wembley he survived eight matches in the Benson and Hedges satellite event in Malvern in November, beating Stuart Bingham - chiefly known for beating Stephen Hendry at the Crucible.

He made six centuries in 12 frames at the Challenge Tour qualifying section and two weeks ago made a 147 maximum in the Young Players of Distinction League.

Taylor compliment

But with two 4-3 defeats in the last 64 of the first two of the season's four Challenge Tour tournaments, he is not certain to qualify yet for the world-ranking circuit.

Today's performance, though, made nonsense of the young man's current ranking of 150.

Dennis Taylor, 1985 World Champion, practised with him for a couple of days last year and was most impressed.

"I thought he was the business but you can never be sure until he has done it in the big tournaments. Now he has."

He will need to do it again when he plays Hendry on Monday afternoon for a place in the quarter-finals.

Benson & Hedges Masters
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See also:

04 Feb 01 | Benson and Hedges Masters
01 Feb 01 | Benson and Hedges Masters
02 Feb 01 | Benson and Hedges Masters
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