by Joe Mansfield
SHAUN Murphy muscled his way past a stubborn Yan Bingtao with a 6-5 victory to seal a place in his second Welsh Open final.
The game, which lasted four hours and 13 minutes, was taken all the way to a deciding frame as the momentum shifted between both players at the Motorpoint Arena.
And Murphy, the world No 10, had to draw on his experience as he produced a century break of 109 in the decider to progress into his 21st ranking event final.
Yan – who celebrates his 20th birthday on Sunday – made a strong start, picking up the first two frames and showing experience beyond his years in the second as he outworked Murphy in the safety battle.
The Chinaman, however, dramatically fell off the pace and lost four successive frames.
The third of these lasted just 10 minutes and the last of which was a long and cagey strategical battle – both frames really took the wind out of the sails of Yan.
Seeming depleted by the surge from Murphy, Yan looked as though he was struggling. Murphy, however, played a risky shot in the seventh, leaving his counterpart with a table full of open reds. He took kindly to the gift and racked up a break of 83 to turn the tide once more.
Rejuvenated by his big break, Yan went on another run of his own and picked up two consecutive frames, putting himself within touching distance of the final.
But the narrative changed once more as the ‘Magician’ Murphy forced a deciding frame. The resurrection of his playing form continued into the decider with a magnificent game-winning century. After converting following Yan’s break, Murphy denied the Chinaman anymore time on the table to wrap up the tie.
Murphy will take on Kyren Wilson – who edged past Ronnie O’Sullivan in the other semi-final – in Sunday’s final.