sport

Carter, Murphy and Davis win

Ali Carter beat Stuart Bingham on Thursday to reach the semi-finals of the UK Championship in York - and will face Shaun Murphy.

Murphy dodged a Belgian bullet as Luca Brecel ran into pink peril and bowed out in the quarter-finals.

Seventeen-year-old Brecel was twice on the brink of a famous victory at just his second major tournament.

But the rising star missed crucial pinks in the 10th and 11th frames to allow Murphy to capitalise both times.

The second steal clinched a 6-5 victory for the 2008 UK champion, setting up a semi-final on Friday against Stuart Bingham's conqueror Ali Carter.

Murphy pointed to strong words at the interval from his manager Brandon Parker as a key factor in his victory.

"Brandon gave me a good talking-to at the interval that would have rivalled one of Sir Alex Ferguson's half-time talks, and it really knocked me into shape," Murphy said.

"It's lucky there were no hairdryers in that dressing room. I think I'd have got one. Without Brandon's words I would have lost the match."

He would have gone out anyway if Brecel had been able to put away his chances.

"I thought I'd lost the match a couple of times, I really did think I was out," Murphy said.

"I think the adrenaline and maybe a little bit of inexperience cost him in the end. He over-hit and under-hit a couple of shots, and I'm just relieved.

"The sense of relief and sense of pleasure is probably twice as much as if I'd won 6-0 with four maximum breaks."

Murphy can see a future champion emerging, and pointed to shades of Stephen Hendry in Brecel's temperament.

"He's just not bothered. And as long as he can keep that, that's what the best champions in the game forever have all had in common," Murphy said.

"When everyone else is under pressure and feeling it, they just waltz through it like it's a walk in the park.

"Hendry never used to show any nerves at all and Luca looks like he's got the same attributes.

"He doesn't seem to show any nerves, he doesn't seem to feel any pressure just until the last minute, and it was lucky for me he did."

The deciding frame had been tipping Murphy's way before he missed the final red, blaming a kick.

Brecel stepped up and looked to be on a victory march until one bad positional shot caused another.

He could not get close enough to the pink to make it a formality and rattled it around the jaws of a corner pocket. The ball rolled kindly for Murphy who seized the unexpected chance to stay in the tournament.

Brecel said: "Shaun said I played well which was very nice of him.

"I expected to get to the quarter-finals and I had a good chance to win today but Shaun deserved to win in the end.

"I'm ready to compete, but I'm only 17 and I've got so much time to get better and better."

Carter came through 6-4 against fellow Essex potter Bingham, firing a total clearance of 134 before holding off a charge from the Premier League champion.

Carter reached the UK Championship semi-finals in 2008, losing to Marco Fu, who went on to be beaten by Murphy in the final.

The world number 15 has concerns over his form, and said: "I don't feel like I've played particularly great yet but I'm in the semis and I'd take that.

"I'll definitely need to play better. I'm going to have to find some form to go on and win the tournament."

Mark Davis joined the semi-final line-up as the most successful season of his 21 years as a snooker professional reached a new high.

The 40-year-old Hastings man reached his third ranking event semi-final of the campaign with a 6-4 victory over the 2003 UK champion Matthew Stevens.

Davis had never made it so far in one of snooker's majors before this term, but he began his run of success at the Wuxi Classic in June, followed it up with another semi-final showing at the Australian Open in July and now has a final in his sights in York.

He fired breaks of 101, 80 and 70 in seeing off Welshman Stevens, earning himself a shot at Neil Robertson or Mark Selby on Saturday. Robertson and Selby were engaged in a punishing contest tonight that looked in danger of running beyond midnight.