Shaun Murphy was left red-faced and seething following his recent exit from the UK Championship. His shock defeat to 19-year-old Si Jiahui, who is still an amateur, in the first round of the Triple Crown event at the York Barbican Centre did not bode well with current World No.6 and he later lashed out — claiming that the Chinese teenager shouldn’t have even been in the tournament.
“I’m going to sound like a grumpy old man but that young man shouldn’t be in the tournament,” ‘The Magician’ told the BBC. “It’s not fair, it’s not right… I don’t know why we as a sport allow amateurs to compete in professional tournaments. This is our livelihood. This is our living. We’re self-employed individuals and not contracted sportsmen. We don’t play for a team.”
Luckily, the 39-year-old, who is no stranger to being heavily backed by those who enjoy betting on snooker at Betfair, has the chance to redeem himself pretty much straight away, with the World Grand Prix taking place in Coventry between 13-19 December. So, without further ado, read on as we list three reasons why we believe Murphy can bounce back in the ranking event…
He’s a wounded animal
Left licking his wounds following that dire first-round defeat to Si, Murphy will head to Coventry for the Grand Prix desperate to right his wrongs from the UK Championship. He’ll have the ranking Scottish Open (7-13 December) to get back into the swing of things and a nice run in that tournament — which will take place in Llandundo, Wales this year — like when he reached the final in 2018, could help him rebuild that much-needed confidence. Of course, with such a busy schedule over the festive period and barely any rest for players between the last few tournaments, that is something that could also play into his hands.
Only the top 32 on the one-year rankings qualify
While theoretically this should make the tournament harder, it could actually benefit Murphy. Not having as many low-ranked players and amateurs might be better for the Magician’s mindset heading into the World Grand Prix, should he qualify, especially after his recent experience at the UK Championship. Facing a smaller pool of tougher opponents from the get-go may perhaps lead to him upping his game, because it will be needed, and producing the kind of snooker and magical shots that we all know he can play. On the flip side, going cue-to-cue with the best in the world from the off could lead to another exit. But, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that!
He can draw on previous success
Murphy won the World Grand Prix in its first year as a ranking title in 2016, beating Stuart Bingham at Venue Cymru in the aforementioned Llandudno by a narrow 10-9, and he went on to reach the quarter-finals in both of the next two renewals. However, since then he has crashed out in the first round for three successive years. If he wants to become more favourable in the snooker predictions this time around, he needs to learn from all those prior experiences, drawing more on the runs to the business end of the competition rather than thinking too much about times he has bowed out prematurely.