Snooker - Selby trounces Murphy to reach Masters final

Mark Selby meandered into his fifth Masters final in seven years with an emphatic 6-1 semi-final win over fellow Englishman Shaun Murphy.

In a match that turned into an anti-climax, breaks of 86, 104, 50 and 62 helped earn Selby a 4-0 lead at London's Alexandra Palace over an opponent whose highest break of only 48 in the fourth frame illustrated his struggles to find any real momentum in controlling the cue ball.

The final three frames were largely scrappy affairs, but Murphy could not find any methods to enhance a mood that appeared to grow increasingly gloomy as he continued to miss obvious chances.

The end result was Selby progressing to what could be a third Masters final in six years against Ronnie O'Sullivan if the world champion overcomes Stephen Maguire in the second semi-final on Saturday night.

"I scored when I had chances in the first three frames. My safety was good. I thought I played really well to lead 4-0," said Selby. "It is a great feeling to be back in the Masters final. It would mean everything to win it again.

"I'd like to hold onto this trophy having reached the final, but lost my UK title (to Neil Robertson) last month."

Murphy had the consolation of snatching a mediocre sixth frame that prevented him from tumbling to a whitewash.

Selby has won all 10 of his final-frame deciders at the sport's most celebrated invitational event, but has yet to whitewash an opponent.

He will bid to equal Ronnie O'Sullivan's haul of four Masters gongs, but he may have to overcome the man from Chigwell to achieve the feat.

The two top seeds in the event will surely meet if O'Sullivan plays near the levels that saw him destroy Ricky Walden 6-0 in 58 minutes in Friday's quarter-finals.

"The atmosphere will be great if I play Ronnie. Playing him in London will be fantastic if he comes through," said Selby.

"I don't think I can't beat Ronnie because I believe in my own ability. I've beaten him before in big finals, and I can beat him again.

"Every time I play him people say 'do you try slow him down or play safe to frustrate him?'

"But I don't physically go out there thinking I can't beat him break-building wise, so I am going to try to tie everything up.

"It is just that is the way it seems to go. A lot of my matches seem to go that way if I'm struggling, but if I'm playing well I know I can be quite attacking and I can score as well.

"Every day is different, but if I perform like I did today then I know I have got a chance if it is Ronnie or Stephen."

Selby has a decent record against O'Sullivan enjoying wins over him in the 2012 Welsh Open semi-finals while he overcame the fans' favourite in the 2010 Masters final.

He added: "Ricky didn't do much wrong against him. That is how good O'Sullivan is at times.

"With his performance yesterday, there are very few players who can beat him.

"If he turns up with the right mental frame of mind, he is going to be very difficult to beat."

Murphy is better known for reaching quarter-finals and semi-finals these days as he continues to find frustration nine years after he was tipped to be a serial winner when winning the 2005 World Championship as a qualifier.

He lost the 2012 Masters final to Neil Robertson, but this was another occasion when he flattered to deceive.

"I was never in it from the first ball hit," said Murphy.  "He completely froze me out in the first session, and I don't think I was involved.

"I wish Mark well in the final. We're very good mates. I missed a couple of balls, and I've not made those mistakes all week.

"You get in habits in life. Mark's habit is coming here and getting to the final. It has been a long time since I've felt that feeling of victory.

"The longer it goes, the harder it gets."

Murphy believes Selby has the game to trouble O'Sullivan in the final.

"When you've got somebody as gifted as O'Sullivan playing the game, how do you go about beating him?," added Murphy. "You can't let him win everything. We all have to try to find some way of beating him.

"Mark has been very good at it."