Shaun Murphy may have been the underdog against Mark Allen in Saturday morning’s semi-final clash of the International Championship but I was in no way surprised when ‘the Magician’ overcame the defending champion.
The form worth of Allen’s quarter final victory against Ding Junhui was dubious, with Ding clearly well below his best and looking distinctly disinterested throughout the match. It was a match Allen tried to lose too, judged on the seemingly countless frame balls he missed.
Consequently, you have to question the merit of Murphy’s path to this final. It’s great to see such a graceful character returning to a deciding table and hopefully he will put his 2018-19 woes behind him. But sentiment does not supply winners and I cannot see him keeping tabs with the reigning World Champion.
After beating Riley Parsons (ever heard of him?) 6-4 in a qualifier, Murphy’s competition results prior to playing Allen read: a 6-5 win over Yuan Sijun, a 6-4 defeat of Yan Bingtao, a 6-5 victory over Neil Robertson and another narrow victory, 6-4, over Graeme Dott.
Form Of His Life
Meanwhile Trump has never looked like getting beat. A 6-4 second round success over Scott Donaldson was his narrowest margin of victory and Trump’s 9-4 semi-final victory over Mark Selby was outstanding given he trailed 1-3 after four frames. Three century breaks in that match took his tournament tally to seven. Murphy, who has played considerably more frames, has recorded just two (a 103 and a 106).
In lifetime meetings the scores are 21-9 in favour of Judd Trump with Murphy winning 88 of the 196 frames they have contested. I’m expecting those stats to read 22-9 late on Sunday but Murphy’s 44.9 frame winning percentage to drop further as I cannot see him running Trump close.
Judd Trump has been outstanding throughout this competition and it’s generally accepted he is a confidence player. Given he is riding on the crest of a tsunami the 2019 World Grand Prix, Masters and World Champion is likely to destroy his rival in this ‘best of 19’ frame final. Funnily enough, Murphy’s last ranking title came in March 2017 at the Gibraltar Open where he beat Trump 4-2! Different times.
The handicap markets are the first port of call. Expecting a rout I’m supporting Trump with a 3.5 frame deficit at 9/10.
Recent winning scores in this final have been 10-5, 10-7, 10-1, 10-5, 10-7 giving us a mean (and median) average final score of 10-5. A two-to-one ratio or even greater is where I envisage this one going so I’m also throwing some pennies at the correct score markets, going large on big-margin of Trump success.