SHAUN MURPHY dodged a Belgian bullet as Luca Brecel ran into pink peril and bowed out in the quarter-finals of the williamhill.com UK Championship.
Seventeen-year-old Brecel was twice on the brink of a famous victory at just his second major tournament.
But the rising star missed crucial pinks in the tenth and 11th frames to allow Murphy to capitalise both times.
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The second steal clinched a 6-5 victory for the 2008 UK champion, setting up a semifinal today against Stuart Bingham’s conqueror Ali Carter.
Murphy pointed to strong words at the interval from his manager Brandon Parker as a key factor in his victory.
‘‘Brandon gave me a good talking-to at the interval that would have rivalled one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s half-time talks, and it really knocked me into shape,’’ Murphy said.
‘‘It’s lucky there were no hairdryers in that dressing room. I think I’d have got one.
Without Brandon’s words I would have lost the match.’’ He would have gone out anyway if Brecel had been able to put away his chances.
‘‘I thought I’d lost the match a couple of times, I really did think I was out,’’ Murphy said.
‘‘I think the adrenaline and maybe a little bit of inexperience cost him in the end. He over-hit and under-hit a couple of shots, and I’m just relieved.
‘‘The sense of relief and sense of pleasure is probably twice as much as if I’d won 6-0 with four maximum breaks.’’ Carter came through 6-4 against fellow Essex potter Bingham, firing a total clearance of 134 before holding off a charge from the Premier League champion.
Carter reached the UK Championship semi-finals in 2008, losing to Marco Fu, who went on to be beaten by Murphy in the final.
Mark Davis last night joined the semi-final line-up as the most successful season of his 21 years as a snooker professional reached a new high.
The 40-year-old Hastings man reached his third ranking event semi-final of the campaign with a 6-4 victory over the 2003 UK champion Matthew Stevens.
Davis had never made it so far in one of snooker’s majors before this term, but he began his run of success at the Wuxi Classic in June, followed it up with another semi-final showing at the Australian Open in July and now has a final in his sights in York.
He fired breaks of 101, 80 and 70 in seeing off Welshman Stevens, earning himself a shot at Neil Robertson or Mark Selby tomorrow.