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Selby sails into fifth Masters final

Ismail Vedat at Alexandra Palace
January 18, 2014 « McIlroy hit with 'foot fault' penalty, Mickelson resurgent | Chartbeat test »
Mark Selby remains on course for a fourth Masters crown © PA Photos
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Defending champion Mark Selby is into the final of the Masters for the fifth time in seven years after beating 2012 finalist Shaun Murphy 6-1 at the Alexandra Palace.

Selby, who has won the prestigious event three times during his career, came through final-frame deciders against Mark Davis and John Higgins - after coming from 5-3 down - to reach the semi-finals, but was the dominant player against Murphy as he stormed his way into yet another final.

"It's a great feeling [to be in another final]. Five times in the last seven years is a great feat," Selby said. "I don't know what it is about the tournament, but I'm over the moon. To win the trophy again would mean everything."

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Stephen Hendry has won a record seven world titles © PA Photos
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Selby made a lightning start to the encounter, racing to the opening two frames by firing in breaks of 86 and 104.

The reigning champion was first in once again in the third frame as Murphy could not get into the contest. However, after rattling in a fine red off the left cushion and making a 50, Selby broke down.

This gave Murphy the chance to get his first pot and points of the match, but all he could collect was 24 as Selby finished off the frame after his opponent missed a red to the left middle pocket.

It was vital for Murphy to take the frame before the midsession interval, and was given a great opportunity to do so after Selby missed a simple black with all the reds evenly spread.

But, Murphy missed a pink on 48 after playing a poor positional shot from the previous red, and Selby counter-attacked with a 62 to head into the interval 4-0 in front.

A 33 put Selby in command in the fifth frame, and following a problem with the scoreboard in the arena in which both players - who are the best of friends - shared a laugh, it was Selby who was smiling at the end as he moved to within one frame of victory.

Murphy managed to avoid the dreaded whitewash by taking a scrappy sixth frame, but Selby wrapped up the win to seal his place in the final once again.

"After the interval to try and finish the match off was a bit of a struggle. I did most of the damage before the interval," Selby said.

"I played quite well to go in front before the interval as I started off great in the first two frames, and I didn't really give Shaun a chance until the fourth frame. If it goes 3-1, then it would have been a different match.

"I scored when I got the chance and my safety was good, which was pleasing. Normally I have to rely on my safety if my scoring isn't that great. With all the top players when you miss certain shots, you're surprised. They're all that good so you don't expect them to miss anything easy."

A dejected Murphy said: "I'm really disappointed. It's not what I came for and it's not what I prepared for. I was never really in it from the first ball hit. I made a bad start, a bad break, and it cost me the first frame. He played wonderfully from them on in the first session and he completely froze me out of it. Whoever he plays, I hope he goes on and wins it."

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