Ebdon digs deep

Peter Ebdon again showed his resilience in burying the memory of a disastrous second session to draw level with outsider Shaun Murphy in their Embassy World Championship semi-final.

Peter Ebdon again showed his resilience in burying the memory of a disastrous second session to draw level with outsider Shaun Murphy in their Embassy World Championship semi-final.

Ebdon had drawn on similar powers to come back from 8-2 and 10-6 down to overcome Ronnie O’Sullivan with his go-slow approach in the quarter-finals.

And he dug in to halt the afternoon surge of Rotherham-based Murphy which saw him win seven of the eight frames.

Ebdon needed to recapture his sparkling form of the opening session if he was to defy the bookmakers odds which, after the second session, made Murphy a 4-9 favourite to reach his first Crucible final.

And the 34-year-old ended a five-frame losing run in the first of the evening with a run of 53 proving decisive.

Murphy had opportunities in the next two to come out on top, but for just about the first time his potting form deserted him.

Ebdon broke down on 53 in frame 18 and Murphy was favourite before missing the final red into the yellow pocket after compiling 37.

In the next Ebdon was again first to strike with a 43 but split all the reds when missing a difficult pot into the black pocket.

Murphy again failed to capitalise, missing when using the rest for the first time in 20 attempts in the match, and another run of 40 for Ebdon meant he had regained the lead.

The rot was halted by Murphy in the final frame before the interval as an opening 39 and a concluding 39 left the match evenly poised at 10-10.

Ebdon’s game had been taken apart by Murphy in the second session as a 6-2 lead quickly evaporated as he lost seven of the eight frames.

Murphy began the session with back-to-back centuries and a further three 50-plus breaks put him in command at 9-7 going into the evening’s session.

Twenty-two-year-old Murphy, a 150-1 outsider at the start of the tournament, had already knocked out two previous world champions in John Higgins and Steve Davis.

Crucible nearly man Matthew Stevens hit back to draw level with Ian McCulloch in the other semi-final.

Stevens has lost three semi-finals and one final on snooker’s biggest stage and he trailed 6-2 after the first session with McCulloch.

But the Welshman then won the second session by the same scoreline to draw level at 8-8 in the best-of-33-frames marathon.

Stevens had struggled to find his form on Thursday, making too many errors as McCulloch rattled in two centuries and four 50-plus breaks.

But he was back to somewhere near his best, while this time it was the turn of McCulloch to make uncharacteristic mistakes compared with his form throughout the tournament.

Stevens strung together six breaks of 50 or more to emphasise his dominance against the Preston potter.

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