Shaun Murphy and Mark Selby came through epic semi-finals on Saturday to reach the World Snooker Championship final. Gary Moss previews the marathon encounter...
"There's sometimes a feeling of inevitability in the air when Selby is gearing up to a win a big one and there's certainly that feeling about things here."
The biggest match of the snooker season is here again with Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy ready to battle it out to take home the world title.
Having both fought their way through epic semi-final matches to book their place in the showpiece, this match is really a question of who can do it all again.
The fist-pumping Murphy who rolled back the years to produce some of the finest snooker of his career or the man made of steel Selby who is the ultimate match player in modern snooker.
It's a race to 18 frames over two days. Sit back and enjoy the bank holiday weekend show.
Murphy finds the old magic
You'll struggle to remember the last time Murphy played as well as this. In fact, you can be quite confident in saying that his comeback win against Kyren Wilson is probably his best ever Crucible performance.
After looking dead and buried at 10-4 down, he stormed back to win 13 of the next 15 frames to seal an impressive 17-12 semi-final win.
After demonstrating a mental toughness to tie level at 12-12, Murphy finished in style in the final session winning five straight frames to sprint to the winning post. He did it with a 100% long pot success and 99% pot success. With the crowd behind him, he looked like an unstoppable force playing exactly how we all picture Murphy playing when he's at his very best; striking the ball with authority, going all out for his shots and patrolling round the table with purpose.
Murphy now has the opportunity to win a second world title 16 years after his first and in doing so will become the only player ever to win the event as both a seed and a qualifier.
His win back in 2005 feels like a lifetime ago. And having not reached the semi-finals since finishing runner-up in 2015, he can be forgiven for thinking another crack at the big one win had passed him by. But this championship has seen Murphy back to his best.
He is playing with fire in his belly and a passion we have not seen from him in some time.
Selby is up for the fight
Through to his fifth Crucible final and gunning to win a fourth world title to draw level with John Higgins, make no mistake that Selby is up for the fight as he lays down his credentials again as being one of the game's all-time greats.
With unfinished business from his cruel semi-final to defeat to Ronnie O'Sullivan last year, Selby looked like a man who refused to be beaten as he edged past Stuart Bingham 17-15 this time.
He wasn't always at his fluent best as we have seen earlier in the tournament but from coming into the final day 13-11 down, he showed a fierce determination to get the job done.
While the manner in Murphy's win stirred up thoughts of some Crucible romance, Selby proved again why he's such a great champion. He knows how to win every which way and can manage the ebb and flow of a longer-format match like no other.
There's sometimes a feeling of inevitability in the air when Selby is gearing up to a win a big one and there's certainly that feeling about things here. While we know how well Murphy is playing, we also know it's impossible for him to sustain that level for all four sessions in the final.
When Murphy is producing his snooker of gods, Selby is capable of finding a way to hang on and when Murphy's foot does come off of the pedal, Selby will be ready and waiting to take full advantage. Selby is built to win big titles and has the kind of know-how that could prove crucial.