By Saj Chowdhury
BBC Sport at The Crucible
Shaun Murphy's rapid rise from obscurity to the World Snooker final has earned him the nickname "The Magician" - but he says there is no mystery to his dramatic new form.
World ranking (start of season): 48
WC best: Final 2005?
Highest break: 147
The 22-year-old began the season ranked 48th in the world and has never made it past the opening round at the Crucible before this year.
But he says it is simply down to the long hours he has put in over the years finally beginning to pay off.
And, talking to BBC Sport, he advised other players to follow his example.
"They should work as hard as they can," he said.
"And when people talk of burnout don't take any notice of them.
"All the hours me and my Dad spent practising after school were all worth it."
Murphy's best performance to date had been a semi-final appearance at the 2004 British Open.
Belying his experience
He has only ever made it to the televised stages of the World Championship in 2002 and 2003.
And he nearly failed again this year.
He was pushed hard by Joe Swail in the final qualifying round, but eventually prevailed 10-8.
And once into the tournament proper, he has played as if he has been competing at the top level for years.
Murphy beat Chris Small in the first round, before brushing aside one of the tournament favourites, John Higgins.
His thrashing of six-times champion Steve Davis in the quarter-finals followed by his victory over Peter Ebdon may have surprised many, but not to those who were already aware of the prodigious talent.
Murphy, who lives not far from the Crucible in nearby Rotherham, turned professional in 1998 at the tender age of 15, having learnt his trade at the Rushden Snooker Centre, where 2002 world champion Ebdon also practises.
Tipped for the top
Two years later Murphy landed the title of World Snooker Newcomer of the Year, after a good 2000/2001 that saw him qualify for the Masters.
There he beat Marco Fu 6-1, before losing to Stephen Hendry 6-4.
Murphy, along with Stephen Maguire, Michael Holt and Ding Junhui is one of a gaggle of young players tipped to make it to the top.
And while the others will have to wait another year for their chance, "The Magician" is still in with a big shout of becoming the cream of the crop.