Shaun Murphy wants to be snooker’s Greatest Showman as he bids to hit all the right notes, and win a second Betfred World Championship

The all-singing, all-dancing 2005 winner did everything but bow to the crowd after conjuring up a magical performance for a famous 17-12 semi-final victory over last year’s finalist Kyren Wilson.

The Magician kept his world title bid alive as he produced a sensational spell to win 13 out of 15 frames, as he bravely battled back like Lazarus from 10-4 down to reach a fourth Crucible final.

Opponent Mark Selby, who was warned for slow play, made history for all the wrong reasons as his semi-final against Stuart Bingham was hauled off for overrunning – but Murphy is determined to make the final a spectacle for the paying punters. A capacity crowd will savour the atmosphere of being at the first non-socially distanced sporting event since last year’s Cheltenham Festival.

Murphy revealed: “I think there’s a responsibility to make the World Championship final a show. Reaching a World Championship final is special, it’s what we all grow up dreaming of achieving.

“I think it’s something other sportspeople manage to do. They marry that balance between performance and entertainment. I think it’s something we lack in snooker. I’m not going to name any names or call anybody out, but I don’t think enough of the players do enough to entertain. It’s not all about what players do on the table, it’s a theatre out there.

“I’m proud to be a part of a pioneering event which is leading the way back to normality.”

World Snooker have done an amazing job at this Government Pilot event and the stage was set as Murphy and Selby did battle in their first session this afternoon. It means absolutely everything for both players with Murphy desperate to become just the eighth multiple world champion. Selby says he will “do everything to win” a fourth Crucible crown, which will see him draw level with legend John Higgins.

Only Stephen Hendry (seven), Ray Reardon, Steve Davis and Ronnie O’Sullivan (six) have more.

It was Murphy who served up a treat as he landed the first blows to lead 5-3. Breaks of 65, 75, 64 and 52 were enough to forge a two-frame cushion heading into tonight’s session where they will play a further nine frames.

Then it promises to be a momentous final day with a sell out crowd of 980 for both sessions, as the 2021 Betfred World Snooker Champion will be crowned after a phenomenal 17 days of snooker here at the sport’s spiritual Sheffield home.

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