Shaun Murphy admits he struggled with a low-key atmosphere at the Tour Championship on Wednesday, despite battling to a 10-8 win over Rob Milkins in the quarter-finals.
The Magician was a long way from his magical best in the afternoon session as he slipped to a 5-1 deficit to the Milkman, although managed to win the final two frames of the stanza to move within two.
He was far better in the evening as it was Milkins’ turn to struggle, with the former world champion knocking in two centuries and three half-centuries en route to the 10-8 victory.
The event so far has been played in front of disappointing crowds at the Bonus Arena in Hull, with plenty of empty seats visible, and Murphy says it was difficult to get going in a venue that was far from full for a prestigious tournament.
‘Absolutely 100 per cent, I’m not a shy and retiring type of person, I want to put a show on,’ Murphy told ITV4 when asked if it was hard to deal with the atmosphere, or lack of it.
‘When there’s not an audience there, it’s difficult, but it’s the same for both players.
‘I think the tickets have sold well for the weekend. So the reward for coming through a match like that is that we will get to play in front of a packed house.’
The final played on Sunday is indeed sold out, with extra tickets being made available, so it should be a much better vibe by the time that comes around.
Murphy wasn’t the only one to notice the underwhelming feeling in the room, with Ali Carter saying he struggled to find form in the ‘subdued’ atmosphere in Hull on his way to a 10-4 loss to Kyren Wilson.
‘I was rubbish all day really,’ Carter told ITV4. ‘I threw three or four frames away and you can’t afford to do that against someone of Kyren’s class.
‘I just felt flat all day. It was a very subdued atmosphere, that didn’t help me really. Disappointing.’
Stephen Hendry, on commentary duties for ITV also noted on Instagram that the ticket sales were a ‘shame’ for an event like the Tour Championship, with the top eight on the one-year rankings and £150,000 on the line for the winner.
‘Big event this week, shame about the poor crowds,’ wrote the seven-time world champion.
The Tour Championship is being held in Hull for the first time and may be struggling due to a few of the sport’s biggest names missing out as Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson, Judd Trump and John Higgins were all among those who failed to qualify.
The arena in East Yorkshire is also not a million miles away from Sheffield where the World Championship begins in just a matter of days, which may also have harmed crowds.
Murphy, though, will be excited to be back on Friday for a semi-final against either Mark Selby or Ryan Day and is glad that he dug in against Milkins, used his much-improved B game while he needed it before finding form.
‘A few years ago that’s the type of match that I wouldn’t have won. I was known for only being able really to win if I burst the lights out,’ he said.
‘That’s changed, it took me a bit longer than some of my peers to get that B and C game but I have got it now, I have got a bit of patience and I will wait.
‘I didn’t achieve the heights of the Players Championship, but there was some nice play in there too.’
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