Maguire holds nerve to seal victory

Stephen Maguire held his nerve to beat Shaun Murphy 10-9 and be crowned the new Honghe Industrial China Open champion.

Stephen Maguire held his nerve to beat Shaun Murphy 10-9 and be crowned the new Honghe Industrial China Open champion.

The Scottish potter led 5-3, trailed 7-6, but kept his composure under pressure to claim his fourth ranking title of his career.

Rotherham’s Murphy pushed the Glaswegian all the way at the Beijing Sports Gymnasium, taking the match to a final-frame decider.

But it was Maguire, the world number 10, who pocketed a winner’s cheque for £50,000, while adopted Yorkshireman Murphy took home £25,000 as a worthy runner-up.

“It’s a fantastic feeling to win this title,” reflected Maguire.

“I’ve been practising really hard, but I admit in the last round there were definitely a few nerves there.

“It was a great final and I knew it was going to be tough because Shaun is such a good player, but I was happy with the way I played, especially with the way I held myself together at the end of the match.”

Maguire won the Northern Ireland Trophy earlier this season, before losing to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the UK Championship final in Telford.

But in his third final this season the 26-year-old was determined not to slip up at the final hurdle.

With victory Maguire now joins an elite band of players who have won four or more ranking titles.

Only 11 fellow professionals have achieved that feat - Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, O’Sullivan, John Higgins, Mark Williams, Jimmy White, John Parrott, Peter Ebdon, Ken Doherty, Ray Reardon and Stephen Lee.

Maguire’s success in the Far East also saw him emulate Australian Neil Robertson’s achievement of winning two ranking titles in the same season.

For Murphy, the world number three, the only consolation is that the 25-year-old has moved up to number one in the provisional world rankings ahead of next month’s World Championship.

Incredibly, Murphy has reached five successive ranking event semi-finals in the last five tournaments, but he was understandably disappointed to have missed out having got through to the final in Beijing.

Maguire won the opening frame after Murphy had first got in with a break of 41, before Murphy pocketed runs of 54 and 72 to lead 2-1.

Back came Maguire with breaks of 74, 106 and 46 to lead 4-2, which he then followed with another century, a cool 102 to open up a three frame advantage.

Murphy raised his game and compiled a special 136 break to trail 5-3 at the afternoon interval, before returning following the resumption to power into a 7-5 lead thanks to runs of 75, 46, 81 and 45.

The match then swung Maguire’s favour the Scot pocketed a match high 137 break, won a scrappy 14th frame and then added breaks of 80 and 89 to edge within one frame of victory.

Murphy responded with an 86 run to reduce his arrears, before Maguire looked on course to clinch a 10-8 victory.

However, Murphy had other ideas and after his opponent had faltered on a break of 40, the 2005 world champion added runs of 26 and 30 to force the final frame.

Maguire got in first with a 35 break, and then Murphy responded with 38 run. But it was Maguire who triumphed by potting the final pink ball to win a long winded frame by 24 points.

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