Murphy V Buick: Who Has The Advantage As The Championship Reaches A Climax?

Adrian Humphries reports from the Crucible on a snooker star who has finally delivered in the Betfred World Championship ...

Judd Trump favourite for 2020 Crucible after defeating John Higgins in world final

Sunday May 5 & Monday May 6

J Higgins 9-18 J Trump

Judd Trump is 7-2 to win the 2020 Betfred World Championship after outplaying John Higgins to defeat the Scot 18-9 and join the elite club of players who have won all three major tournaments.

Trump, 29, had lifted only the UK Championship trophy prior to this season, but the Bristolian's triumphs in the Masters in London and now the worlds in Sheffield mean he ranks among the game's greats.

He was in deep trouble against Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in his Crucible opener, but made fairly resolute progress after that early scare in wins over Ding Junhui, Stephen Maguire and Gary Wilson and fully deserves his triumph, one that should ensure he is named as player of the 2018-19 season.

The Ace in the Pack and Higgins served up one of the finest finals in the history of snooker with a total of 11 century breaks, seven of which came from the cue of Trump. The victor's big scores were 105, 103, 135, 114, 101, 126 and 104, while Higgins added runs of 139, 101, 125 and 113. The tournament ended with a round record total of 100 tons.

Trump, who attained the world number one ranking in the 2012-13 season, will rise to second in the chart behind Ronnie O'Sullivan for next season after avenging his 2011 Crucible 18-15 final defeat to Higgins.

As for four-time Sheffield champion Higgins, it's now three Crucible runner-up berths on the spin and wags on the circuit were quipping that the Scot has his eyes on Jimmy White's record of second-place finishes.

To be fair to Higgins, who also lost to Mark Selby in 2017 and Mark Williams last year, he couldn't stop the ball rolling when Selby found his rhythm and there was nothing he could do to deny Trump in that mood.

It's no surprise to see Trump installed favourite to retain his world crown next season, although considering he often struggles in the opening round at the Crucible, such odds make little appeal.

If there is any value in Betfred's formative list it could lie with 50-1 Shaun Murphy, who has gone all the way before in Sheffield and knows what it takes to reach the final. The Magician belied odds of 66-1 this year by performing promisingly at the Crucible after a season to generally forget, so if he rediscovers the old zest he could still make a mockery of such odds.

2020 Betfred World Championship: 7-2 Trump, 4 O'Sullivan, 8 Robertson, Selby, 14 Higgins, 16 K Wilson, 20 Allen, Hawkins, 25 Ding Junhui, M Williams, 33 Bingham, Gilbert, 40 Lisowski, 50 Murphy, 66 Carter, 80 Yan Bingtao, Brecel, Maguire, 100 G Wilson, Zhou Yuelong, 150 McGill, Perry, Zhao Xintong, 200 bar.

Judd Trump on brink of title as Crucible tons total reaches 100

Sunday May 5 & Monday May 6

J Higgins 9-16 J Trump

A phenomenal total of 11 centuries in 25 frames mean this year's Betfred World Championship title decider is the best-quality final there has ever been and both Judd Trump and John Higgins had the opportunity to post 147 maximum breaks in the 2019 climax.

The title is Trump's to lose after sharing session three 4-4 to maintain a seven-frame lead at 16-9 - Higgins needed to win the third quarter of the clash to have any realistic hopes of mounting a meaningful fightback.

The Ace in the Pack needs to win just two of the possible ten frames that remain - and opponents simply don't beat Trump 9-1 these days, especially now he's got his brother in tow with him on tour and he's a happier chap in general.

On the spreads, Sporting Index are quoting total final tons at 11.8-12. So buyers would need another two century breaks to profit, but the way this match is going it would take a brave punter to say that this year's record tally of 100 three-figure compilations won't grow higher in the tournament's closing session.

Latest odds:

1-150 Trump (Betfred), 66 Higgins (Betfair, Paddy Power).

Judd Trump responds well to preserve seven-frame final cushion

Sunday May 5 & Monday May 6

J Higgins 7-14 J Trump

John Higgins eased his arrears to 12-7 after the first couple of frames in session three of his Betfred World Championship final with Judd Trump, but the Juddernaut showed commendable tenacity to restore his seven-frame lead at 14-7 by the second of the clash's afternoon intervals.

With a 147 maximum break within his grasp after a terrific doubled final red, Higgins missed a black off its spot and his run ended on 113. That didn't stop the Scot smiling, though, and he did well to pinch the second frame of day two and get his opponent thinking.

However, Trump is made of stronger stuff these days and reminded the Wizard of Wishaw who was bossing the Crucible baize this year when responding in frame 20 with a break of 101 - the ninth ton of the final - after which he also dominated frame 21.

Latest odds:

1-40 Trump (Betfair, Betfred, Hills), 20 Higgins (bet365, Betfred, BoyleSports).

Judd Trump leaves Higgins on ropes with run of eight unbeaten frames

Sunday May 5 & Monday May 6

J Higgins 5-12 J Trump

Take a bow, Judd Trump! The Ace in the Pack, who has so often looked vulnerable on the biggest stage of them all, reeled off a phenomenal eight frames on the bounce to lead John Higgins 12-5 and leave the Scot reeling on the ropes in their best-of-35-frames Betfred World Championship title decider.

After Higgins led 5-4 it was all about Masters champion Trump, who is 1-20 to join the pantheon of potters who have won the three biggest titles in the game.

Higgins' only hope looks to be to win at least six of the eight frames due to be played in session three on Monday, a scoreline which would still leave him three frames off the pace going into the last quarter of the match.

But when Trump smelled blood it was a tired-looking Higgins, who worked overtime to defeat Stuart Bingham, Neil Robertson and Dave Gilbert in the three preceding rounds, who hit the wall on Sunday evening.

And what a superlative display of snooker it was from the Bristolian, who posted four of the seven century breaks compiled in the first half of the match.

Trump is already vying with Ronnie O'Sullivan, who has returned to number one in the rankings after five tournament triumphs, in the race to be named player of the year. Triumph on Monday, however, and there's only one winner.

Latest odds:

1-20 Trump (BoyleSports), 12 Higgins (bet365).

Tons aplenty as Judd Trump forges two clear at second-quarter interval

Sunday May 5 & Monday May 6

J Higgins 5-7 J Trump

So, just the six tons in the first 12 frames of this already-classic Betfred World Championship final as Judd Trump and John Higgins sip a cuppa at the interval in their nine-frame second session.

It's three centuries apiece, but Trump will be the happier of the combatants after taking a 7-5 lead over Higgins with five more frames to play on Sunday evening.

The Scot moved 5-4 up with a run of 125, but a 135 from Trump in frame 11 was the high point as the Bristolian, who had looked nervy going into the auditorium for the evening shift, gave hope to favourite-backers.

Sky Bet quote Trump at 1-2 while Hills make Higgins a 12-5 chance - those firms haven't been budging on their polarised stances despite the underround book. We know Higgins is cueing as well as he has done all season - the Scot is without a title in the 2018-19 campaign.

However, the Ace in the Pack, who potted some blinding balls in the first four frames on night one of the final, seems to be holding himself together pretty well on the first day.

Higgins will hope to win at least three of the remaining five frames to be played on Sunday to reduce his arrears by at least one.

Latest odds:

1-2 Trump (Sky Bet), 12-5 Higgins (Hills).

John Higgins reels in Trump to end first session of final all square

Sunday May 5 & Monday May 6

J Higgins 4-4 J Trump

Judd Trump won three of the first four session-one frames of the Betfred World Championship best-of-35-frames final, but the Masters hero could only sit and watch as John Higgins fought back to lead 4-3 before the Bristolian took the last frame to draw the first quarter 4-4.

It was stunning stuff from Higgins, who is cueing like a dream, and a run of 101, to go with a 139 compilation earlier on Sunday, has convinced the oddsmakers that this final could be the Scot's to lose.

Trump is playing his part in a high-quality match, though. The Ace in the Pack, who had a break of 105 in frame four, added a 103 in the closing frame of the afternoon.

Going into Sunday evening's second session Trump is shading favouritism at 4-5. Higgins, who enjoyed a run of 248 unanswered points after the mid-session interval, is a 5-4 chance to notch a fifth Crucible crown.

Latest odds:

5-4 Higgins (RedZone), 4-5 Trump (BoyleSports).

Judd Trump carves out early two-frame lead in final at first-session interval

Sunday May 5 & Monday May 6

J Higgins 1-3 J Trump

It's advantage to Judd Trump at the halfway point of the first of a possible four Betfred World Championship final sessions as the Ace in the Pack eked out a 3-1 lead over John Higgins.

After Trump won the opening frame, Higgins went close to getting the snookers he needed to draw level but the Bristolian did just enough to double his lead.

Higgins, who is unlikely to be able to let Trump take much of a lead, then fired in a superb run of 139 before the title favourite restored his two-frame cushion with a break of 105 in frame four.

Trump was then quoted at a best price of 4-9 by Sky Bet to lift the trophy with Higgins eased to 5-2 by Hills.

Latest betting:

4-9 Trump (Sky Bet), 5-2 Higgins (Hills).

Judd Trump sets up title decider against John Higgins

Thursday May 2, Friday May 3 & Saturday May 4

J Trump 17-11 G Wilson

Judd Trump is the 8-15 favourite to win a maiden Betfred World Championship after easing past Gary Wilson.

It's a repeat of the 2011 final, won by Higgins, with the Scot available at 7-4. There will be a full preview of the final on Racingpost.com at Sunday lunchtime.

John Higgins completes comeback to make third consecutive final

Thursday May 2, Friday May 3 & Saturday May 4

D Gilbert 16-17 J Higgins

John Higgins overcame David Gilbert in a tense deciding frame to book his place in a third consecutive Betfred World Championship final and tee up a shot at a fifth Crucible crown.

Higgins, runner-up in Sheffield in each of the last two years, had struggled throughout the season and his hopes of conquering the world once more were falling by the wayside.

But the legendary Scot showed all of his battling qualities to pull off a comeback against Gilbert. Higgins was 14-11 down but reeled off four frames on the spin to find himself 15-14 up.

A courageous Gilbert won successive frames to go ahead again before Higgins made a break of 139, the fifth century of the match, to force a one-frame shootout.

The 31-minute deciding frame went the way of Higgins, who has now played seven Crucible deciders and lost just one.

Higgins is 6-4 across the board to claim a first world title since 2011, where bookmakers believe he will meet Judd Trump - his victim eight years ago.

David Gilbert rips up formbook with first career win over Kyren Wilson

Tuesday April 30 & Wednesday May 1

D Gilbert 13-8 K Wilson

The vast majority of bookmakers were celebrating a great result as David Gilbert progressed to the semi-finals courtesy of a career-first victory over Kyren Wilson.

The Warrior, who had won his first three meetings with Gilbert, had looked to be back somewhere near his best in his victory over Barry Hawkins in the highest-quality match of the tournament.

However, Gilbert, who knocked out last year's champion Mark Williams in round two, paid scant attention to that result as he did the lion's share of the damage in his 13-8 triumph in session two of the rumble with Wilson and finished the job in good style on Wednesday.

The Tamworth farmer will play either John Higgins or Neil Robertson in the last four.

Gary Wilson first into semis as Captain gets his marching orders

Tuesday April 30 & Wednesday May 1

G Wilson 13-9 A Carter

Gary Wilson's Crucible run is gathering pace and the Wallsend ace is two matches away from being crowned world champion following a 13-9 victory over Ali Carter.

In a high-quality clash featuring seven centuries, Wilson, conqueror of three-time Sheffield champion Mark Selby in the last 16, fully deserved his triumph and notched four of those tons.

It's Stephen Maguire or, more likely, Judd Trump up next for the Geordie ace and whoever he meets will know they'll have a match on their hands.

The Warrior leaves it late to overcome Barry Hawkins

Sunday April 28 & Monday April 29

B Hawkins 11-13 K Wilson

Kyren Wilson showed all the battling qualities required to be crowned a world champion when overhauling Crucible specialist Barry Hawkins in an early candidate for match of the tournament.

The Warrior headed into the final session trailing 9-7 but took the opening two frames to tee up a dramatic conclusion.

Hawkins showed plenty of resolve to punish Wilson, who missed on 47, to go 11-10 up before the Warrior lived up to his nickname and repaid the favour with a clearance of 81.

Wilson took the lead for the first time in the match with a break of 125 before wrapping up his comeback in style with a 132, which was his fifth century of the game and a ninth in total.

The Warrior is 4-11 with bet365 to overcome Dave Gilbert in the quarter-finals and is 11-2 second favourite with the same firm to conquer the world.

Pressure proves too much for inexperienced youngster Zhou Yuelong

Sunday April 28 & Monday April 29

A Carter 13-9 Zhou Yuelong

Zhou Yuelong led Ali Carter 9-7 heading into the final session but seemed to wilt under the Crucible pressure as he lost six frames on the spin.

Yuelong had defeated Mark Allen in the opening round despite seeing his 9-2 lead dwindled down to 9-7 but this time he couldn't hold off a fightback from the experienced Captain, who made consecutive contributions of 72, 72 and 55.

Carter, a two-time finalist in Sheffield, is 4-9 to see off Gary Wilson in the quarter-finals and 11-1 to go all the way.

Defending champion Mark Williams dumped out by David Gilbert

Friday April 26 & Saturday April 27

D Gilbert 13-9 M Williams

David Gilbert won four of the six frames in Saturday evening's closing session to run out a ready winner against defending champion Mark Williams and book his place in the quarter-finals.

Williams was able to continue despite a health scare on Friday which wouldn't have helped his preparations but he was ultimately outclassed by Gilbert, who is enjoying his most successful season on tour.

Gilbert was scoring too freely, he had two centuries as well as knocks off 89, 88 and 82, and if in similar heart would be a tough challenge for anyone.

The Angry Farmer, who will meet Barry Hawkins or Kyren Wilson in the last eight, can still be backed for World Championship glory at 25-1.

Stephen Maguire dashes hopes of amateur James Cahill in decider

Friday April 26 & Saturday April 27

S Maguire 13-12 J Cahill

Stephen Maguire edged into the last eight on Saturday afternoon when pipping 1,500-1 qualifier James Cahill, first-round conqueror of Ronnie O'Sullivan, 13-12.

Cahill, the first amateur to play at the Crucible, led 11-10 after resuming the final session at 9-7 in arrears, but it all proved a bit much for the 23-year-old Blackpool potter as Maguire kept his cool better when it mattered most.

Maguire may be a shade underrated for the title. He has knocked in breaks of 131, 125, 121, 105 and 103 in his first two Sheffield outings, both of which went to final-frame deciders, and has responded well when put under pressure by Cahill and Tian Pengfei, his round-one victim.

Gary Wilson into last eight after superb win over Mark Selby 

Thursday April 25, Friday April 26 & Saturday April 27

M Selby 10-13 G Wilson

Take a bow, Gary Wilson! The Geordie ace deserves huge credit for the way he conducted himself in dumping three-time Crucible hero Mark Selby out of this year's Betfred World Championship in a 13-10 upset.

Not that Selby was anywhere near his brilliant best - he wasn't. But Wilson still had a job to do and he did it to perfection with the aid of runs of 115, 100, 97 and 92.

Next up for the cool-as-a-cucumber qualifier, who has been backed at 750-1 with each-way bookmakers, is a quarter-final date with the winner of the Ali Carter v Zhou Yuelong clash.

And the grand irony, with the bottom half having originally looked way tougher than the top section, is that one of those three non-seeds will be in the semi-finals - dual finalist Carter, of course, has been there three times before.

Neil Robertson into last eight after dismissing Shaun Murphy threat

Thursday April 25 & Friday April 26

N Robertson 13-6 S Murphy

So in the end it was pretty comfortable for title favourite Neil Robertson as he quashed the threat posed by Shaun Murphy 13-6.

Murphy had given himself pretty much zip chance of upending the Thunder from Down Under. While that downplayed his own form, which was considerably better than he had shown for much of the season, the fact that he had underperformed for much of the campaign cost him dear.

Robertson is a serious rival for anyone he meets in this championship, not that the oddsmakers didn't know that from the outset, and it's either John Higgins or Stuart Bingham next for the rampant Aussie, who can rest while the other last-16 combatants are hard at it.

Kyren Wilson eases through but needs to step things up

Wednesday April 24 & Thursday April 25

K Wilson 10-4 S Donaldson

Kyren Wilson was barely tested by qualifier Scott Donaldson, but if the Warrior holds serious intentions of being a title contender he will need to step up on this rather drab affair.

Donaldson had chances to make greater inroads in his deficit, but the favourite did enough to keep the Scot at bay and increase his lead.

Wilson, trimmed to 14-1 from 16-1, faces a considerably tougher outing in the last 16 against Barry Hawkins.

Courageous Captain Ali Carter finishes the job against Jack Lisowski

Wednesday April 24 & Thursday April 25

J Lisowski 6-10 A Carter

Ali Carter claimed a 5-4 first-session lead against Jack Lisowski and he had no problem finishing the job to tee up a second-round clash with Chinese youngster Zhou Yuelong.

The Captain, who is twice a runner-up at the Crucible, was utterly dominant and won the opening four frames of the second session to move within one of victory.

Lisowski showed some character to bridge the deficit to 9-6 with breaks of 53 and 124 but it was all too late for the Cheltenham cueman who will be ruing his earlier missed chances.

Carter is 2-5 with bet365 to silence Mark Allen's conqueror Zhou Yuelong and a 28-1 poke with the same firm to life the Sheffield silverware.

Crucible specialist Barry Hawkins swoops into the second round

Wednesday April 24

B Hawkins 10-1 L Hang

Barry Hawkins has made the semi-final stage in five of the last six seasons at the Betfred World Championships and his return to Sheffield once again sparked him into life.

Not for the first time this week, experience came to the fore with the Sheffield seed running riot against a Crucible debutant as Li Hang struggled to cope with the pressure.

Despite the scoreline, the Hawk was solid rather than spectacular - he failed to make a century - and improvements will be needed if he is to again make the one table set-up.

The Hawk is 16-1 with Betfair to conquer the world but it will have to do it the hard way with Kyren Wilson, who leads Scott Donaldson 6-2, likely to be next up.

Zhou Yuelong put through the grinder by Mark Allen before progressing

Tuesday April 23 & Wednesday April 24

M Allen 7-10 Zhou Yuelong

Mark Allen, who started his second session against Zhou Yuelong 7-2 down and then watched as his Chinese opponent went 9-2 up, looked as if he may pull off a miracle when reducing his arrears to 9-7 but it wasn't to be for the Northern Irishman as the youngster prevailed 10-7.

Zhou, who was 400-1 before the Crucible action started and 750-1 prior to qualifying, is one of the brightest talents in the Chinese hordes.

But he was put under huge pressure by Allen on the run-in and while he could become a major player in future, the inexperienced Zhou will surely need to find more to trouble the big names in Sheffield this year.

Judd Trump fights back to set up last-16 Ding Junhui rumble

Tuesday April 23 & Wednesday April 24

J Trump 10-9 T Un-Nooh

The oddsmakers thought Judd Trump might well reel in Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, who won the first session 6-3, and so it proved as the Ace in the Pack triumphed in a final-frame decider.

Trump has been notoriously edgy in many of his last-32 outings at the Crucible and after the fine campaign he has had, maybe the Masters champion will loosen up in the longer best-of-25-frame matches.

Ding Junhui is up next for Trump and the Bristolian enjoys a good recent record against the Chinese number one, who has also had a quieter season than usual.

Graeme Dott fightback thwarted in decider by Stuart Bingham

Tuesday April 23

S Bingham 10-9 G Dott

Just when it seemed that Stuart Bingham had the regular measure of Graeme Dott, back came the Scot from an 8-1 deficit to level at 9-9.

However, Dott's magnificent effort just fell short as Bingham took a nervous final-frame decider to triumph 10-9 in a battle of former champions.

Bingham, who went all the way in 2015, will next meet four-time champion John Higgins and bookmakers are expecting a close encounter.

Pre-tournament favourite Ronnie O'Sullivan stunned by amateur James Cahill

Monday April 22 & Tuesday April 23

R O'Sullivan 8-10 J Cahill 

Five-time world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan was sensationally dumped out of the Betfred World Championship in a 10-8 defeat to James Cahill.

Amateur qualifier Cahill had been 22-1 to upset the 9-4 pre-tournament title favourite, although he was 20-1 at the outset.

Cahill, who has been backed at 1,000-1 for the title - with bits of 1,500-1 in play - was cut to 70-1 with a last-16 clash against Stephen Maguire his next task.

Dave Gilbert holds firm to defy in-form Joe Perry

Monday April 22 & Tuesday April 23

D Gilbert 10-7 J Perry

Joe Perry put up a terrific fight in his bid to reel in Dave Gilbert, but the qualifier had left himself too much to do after losing the first session 6-3.

Perry narrowed the gap to just one frame at one point but Gilbert, who has produced some fine snooker this season, stayed resolute to deny the Gentleman 10-7.

A run of 136 was the highlight for Perry but Gilbert, who had a high break of just 75, may well have to improve his scoring as the tournament goes on.

Mark Selby finally discovers self-belief to dump Zhao Xintong

Monday April 22

M Selby 10-7 Zhao Xintong

Zhao Xintong matched Mark Selby for 14 frames, but when it mattered most the three-time Crucible champion tightened things up to win three on the trot for a 10-7 triumph.

Selby looks under pressure to perform and not make mistakes, but the Jester is more than capable of enjoying a long tournament run at his best.

Future opponents will make less errors than Zhao, though, and Selby, cut to 15-2 from 11-1 for a fourth Sheffield crown, will need to perform better soon.

John Higgins finds fluency to go safely into last 16

10am Sunday April 21 & 2.30pm Monday April 22

J Higgins 10-7 M Davis

John Higgins, hunting a fifth title, is safely through to round two after beating Mark Davis 10-7, rattling in breaks of 100, 135 and 132 along the way.

Fifth seed Higgins will play either Stuart Bingham or Graeme Dott next.

Comfortable triumph for red-hot Neil Robertson

2.30pm Saturday April 20 & 7pm Sunday April 21

N Robertson 10-1 M Georgiou

Former champion Neil Robertson wrapped up a 10-1 first-round win over Michael Georgiou.

Georgiou resumed on Sunday trailing 9-0 and not only staring at what would have been the championship's second whitewash but requiring 83 points to avoid its lowest-scoring performance.

The 31-year-old Cypriot milked the acclaim of the crowd after a break of 90 in the opening frame before Robertson duly reeled off the next to seal the match.

Gary Wilson edges marathon Luca Brecel battle

10am Saturday April 20 & 2.30pm Sunday April 21

G Wilson 10-9 L Brecel

Gary Wilson won the longest frame in Crucible history to beat 14th seed Luca Brecel and book his place in the second round.

Wilson had been a 13-8 shot to progress past the 8-15 Belgian and edged home after a deciding frame lasting 79 minutes and 31 seconds, which eclipsed the previous record of 76 minutes and 11 seconds set in the 2016 semi-final between Mark Selby and Marco Fu.

Their clash still fell some way short of the longest frame in the sport's history, which took over two hours between Fergal O'Brien and David Gilbert in a 2017 World Championship qualifier.

Ding Junhui cut after hitting three tons in opening win

2.30pm Saturday April 20 & 10am Sunday April 21

Ding Junhui bt A McGill 10-7

Ding Junhui is 30-1 from 40-1 after opening his latest Crucible title tilt with a 10-7 victory over Anthony McGill.

Neither player has been at his brilliant best this season but the fact that Ding, Crucible runner-up in 2016, compiled breaks of 134, 129, 106, 99 and 91 in progressing to the last 16 suggests the Chinese number one is not far from peaking.

Ding's reward is a date with the winner of the first-round thriller between Judd Trump and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.

Champion Mark Williams storms off home after ousting Martin Gould

10am & 7pm, Saturday April 20

M Williams bt M Gould 10-7

Defending champion Mark Williams had to watch as Martin Gould narrowed the gap from 9-4 to 9-7, but the Welshman was always in control and was a deserving 10-7 first-round victor.

Williams, always good for a story, was unhappy with World Snooker for not allowing his full immediate family into his dressing room following the win and the miffed top seed has gone home for a few days' rest.

Breaks of 129 and 97 against Gould were the high points of a comfortable triumph and Williams now awaits the winner of the clash between David Gilbert and Joe Perry.

 


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