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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 January 2008, 11:10 GMT
Murphy steeled for Masters tilt
Saga Insurance Masters
Wembley Arena, 13-20 January
Coverage: BBC TV, BBC Sport website & BBC Radio 5 Live

By Saj Chowdhury

Shaun Murphy
Murphy faces Ali Carter in the Masters first round
Shaun Murphy believes a tough schooling has made him a better snooker player.

The 25-year-old, who won the 2005 world title as a qualifier and was briefly ranked number one this season, said his rise to the top has not been easy.

"My reputation was built up in the papers and magazines," he told BBC Sport ahead of the Masters.

"I was the youngest pro on tour, got relegated, then fought my way back up. I'm in a better position for having served my apprenticeship."

Murphy, who is provisionally number three, turned professional in 1998 at the age of 15 and two years later he was named the World Snooker Newcomer of the Year and the Young Player of Distinction of the Year.

He won the B&H Championship and was consequently handed a wildcard for the Masters.

But his career did not take off until the spring of 2005 when he defeated Matthew Stevens 18-16 to become the lowest ranked player (48) to win the World Snooker Championship.


"Before I went for the world qualifiers in 2005, me and my former coach Steve Prest did a drive-by of the Crucible," he added.

"We popped in for coffee and I said to him 'wouldn't it be great if I was playing here'.

"I won both my qualifiers and then got a good draw. I remember giving an interview at the time and told the reporter there's no reason why I can't win the tournament.

"That article is now up at the snooker club where I'm based, in Sheffield - up on the wall next to my table."

The tournament is what it is and it has been a great event for a long, long time

Murphy on the Masters

Murphy is now regarded one of the favourites for any event he enters and will be very short odds to beat Ali Carter in his first-round match at the Saga Insurance Masters.

"Ali is a fantastic player and a great cueist - when he's in full flow I love watching him," he said.

"I've played him a couple of times. He beat me 3-2 in group stages of the Grand Prix but I then defeated him 6-3 in the semis of the Malta Cup. So it's very much honours even."

He added: "The tournament is what it is and it has been a great event for a long, long time.

"It doesn't carry ranking points, but because it involves the top 16 and invites so the field always contains the crème de la crème players."

Murphy realises that in order to win the Wembley title and events in the future, he will have to be at his best.

"I'm not the best but I'm on my way to becoming it," he said.

"The standard is as high as it has ever been and I don't think it can get better.

"The only way that could happen is if the table is cleared each time it's somebody's turn - but that's never going to happen."

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