Friday, 7 December 2012

Semi-final 1: Murphy v Carter

Ali Carter and Shaun Murphy prepare to face each other in today's first UK Championship semi-final but both admit their preparations could have been better.
Picture by Monique Limbos

Here are two of the game's smoothest cueists. They are happy to be in the last four of the second most important ranking event on the calendar, but are know they must play better.

Murphy, quite frankly, is lucky to still be here. He breathed a sigh of relief after knocking out 17-year-old Luca Brecel 6-5 in the quarter-final. He spurned plenty of chances and could easily have lost albeit for some good fortune in the decider.

He was under pressure playing a sensational young talent with nothing to lose, but at times he was all over the place. His excellent temperament took him through in the end and sometimes the pleasure of winning a match where you've played badly can bring added motivation.

Earlier this week Murphy was cueing sweetly enough and looking as confident as I've seen in a long time. He hasn't won a major ranking event in over 18 months and will need to bring his classy best to the table to change that in York.

Picture by Monique Limbos
Carter has played solid stuff this week and beaten Steve Davis, Mark Joyce and Stuart Bingham with a little bit to spare each time.

His 6-4 win against Bingo in the quarter-final saw him knock out the man in form but he still isn't totally satisfied.

He says he's been able to let his attention switch across to the neighbouring table to take his take his mind off the pressures in his own matches.

We're down to one table now and a best of 17 frame format so Carter will have nowhere to let his mind wander. He'll be the centre of attention when he walks out to play Murphy.

Ali has always been blessed with a big match mentality and has always been good at blocking out the back story of a tournament. Victory here would help him to a second successive BBC final.

Who is going to step up to the plate in this finely poised match?

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