Shaun Murphy up for Potters Premier League defence
Shaun Murphy believes the pressure is off as he attempts to make a successful defence of his Premier League Snooker crown at Potters.
The man known as the Magician became the first player to beat Ronnie O'Sullivan in play-offs since the introduction of the 25-second shot clock in 2005, ending the Rocket's record run of five successive titles.
Hopton-on-Sea could be set for a repeat of that final – but only if Murphy overcomes recently crowned Asian Games champion Marco Fu in Saturday evening's semi-final.
O'Sullivan has a tricky best of five frame last four tie of his own on the night, against world champion and number one Neil Robertson.
Murphy, 28, is just looking forward to returning to the scene of his famous win 12 months ago in front of 1,000 snooker fans at a packed Potters arena.
'I think there's probably less pressure on me to be honest, this year,' said Murphy, from Sale near Manchester. 'It's a fair line-up, isn't it? You've got the 2003 champion in Fu, myself as defending champion, O'Sullivan and the world champion in Robertson.
'We'll all be going to go and put a good show on and we'll all give our best, and the winner on Sunday night will certainly be a worthy one.
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'It certainly felt like a tough line-up this year, so I'm just pleased to be in the last four.'
And would he fancy a repeat of last year's final?
'Yes, but it's the old clich� – one match at a time and all that,' said Murphy. 'I don't want to look ahead because I've got to play Marco in the semis and he will be full of confidence. And he beat me in the league, in Preston 4-2, so I've got exact revenge on him for that first.'
Murphy still has fond memories of his trip to Norfolk last year: 'I remember it was a good crowd and packed,' said Murphy. 'It's always nice to go back to somewhere that you won and as I said last year, I've got good memories of that area of the world. I used to play there a lot as a junior in the UK Under-15s at the Pontins in Hemsby, so I've got good memories of the area in general and I'm looking forward to the trip, long as it may be.'