The quarter finals begin at The Masters on Thursday and up first are two Englishmen looking to make it into the semi-final of the second Triple Crown event of the season as Shaun Murphy battles Joe Perry inside the Alexandra Palace.
Both men took care of higher ranked opponents in the first round and have seen the draw open right up for them so it will be interesting to see what effect that has on this match, and which one is best equipped to perform under it.
Murphy had a fine win over the defending champion Judd Trump in the first round. Nobody could even throw suggestions that the world champion wasn’t at his best at him either as Trump made three tons in that match in a 6-3 defeat. Murphy took his chances when they came about and kept things as tight as he could when the time arose for that. A repeat of that performance here should give him every chance.
Murphy knows what it takes to go all the way in this competition so he won’t be daunted by the prospect of a quarter final clash, but he is the favourite for this game and it won’t have been too often that he would have been in that position in this tournament. That brings with it a different dynamic so it will be interesting to see if that has any impact on him, but he has been in such good form all season you would be surprised if it did.
Prior to facing Ding Junhui in the opening match of the tournament, Joe Perry didn’t have the best record in the event. Of course one win doesn’t immediately change that, but the way he held himself together in the early stages, grew into the game and got better the longer it went on, suggests that he is now a man who is comfortable in the surroundings and ready to play his best snooker, which such a stage brings out of anyone who isn’t daunted by the occasion.
The good thing for Perry in that win over Ding is that while his opponent wasn’t at his best, he didn’t relent when the winning line was in sight. That should give him confidence for this match. You would think he will need to show a little improvement in the scoring department but with him settled into the tournament now that shouldn’t be too much of a problem, so the only concern is the pressure he could feel with the draw opening up.
Head to Head
These two men have met on nine previous occasions with Murphy being the man in front in terms of the head to head record. He has six wins to his name to the three of Perry and that record is emphasised when it comes to the frame differential where Murphy leads 40-25, which suggests his wins are all pretty one-sided. This is their first meeting in The Masters and their first match anywhere for four years so there is an historic element to their past record. They have met in two previous quarter finals with both winning one each.
Shaun Murphy seems to be all the rage for this match but this hasn’t been a tournament for the higher ranked player and I’m not completely convinced that is going to automatically change now that we are out of the first round. I would make Murphy a favourite but I don’t see him running away with this. I could argue the case for Joe Perry being decent value but actually I prefer one other bet in the match.
That comes in the total frames where I’m expecting a close enough contest to see over 9.5 frames land quite comfortably in this one. This feels like a really tight clash, not just because they both played so well in the opening round, but also because their games are fairly similar in that they are tactically astute and score nicely when the need arises. Both men look in good touch and with Perry relishing the underdog tag and Murphy determined to keep up his good form and dominate these events I see a scenario where this one is won 6-4 or 6-5 whoever comes out on top.
Back Over 9.5 frames for a 4/10 stake at 2.20 with BetVictor