The two finalists at this year's World #Snooker Championships had vastly different experiences in their last-four matches. Shaun Murphy's place in the prestigious Crucible final seemed guaranteed after just two sessions of play, with his winning margin at a commanding 17-9 over Barry Hawkins. In stark contrast, Stuart Bingham had to withstand the persistence of crowd favourite Judd Trump, before he could claim a final frame decider 17-16.
Murphy wrapped match up quickly
Murphy had led 6-2 and then 13-3 after the first two sessions against Hawkins. The 2005 champion failed to clinch the match as early as he may have initially hoped, as his opponent edged their next session 5-3 to close the deficit to 8-16. That left Murphy tantalisingly poised overnight, just one frame away from victory.
Although Hawkins extended the match even further with a battling break of 103 to further narrow Murphy's lead, his hopes were extinguished in the next frame. The Masters' champion settled the outcome once and for all with a frame-winning break of 83 to clinch the victory.
Epic semi-final between Trump and Bingham
The semi-final between Trump and Bingham always seemed destined to go right to the wire. Neither player could seem to pull away as their classic tussle developed. Bingham edged in front by a few frames on several occasions, only for the Bristolian to pull him back again.
It seemed that Trump's resistance might finally have been broken when Bingham moved into a potentially decisive 16-14 lead. His second century of the final showed that he was enjoying his new experience of the one-table set-up.
Trump proved that he was far from defeated though, rattling in successive breaks of 108 and 129 to extend the engrossing entertainment into the final frame decider.
Just when it seemed that Bingham had finally met his match, his strong temperament allowed him to deliver the coup de gras. He edged a tense match with a 62-6 last frame margin to move into his first World Championship final.
After once again failing in his conquest for the title, Trump must hope that he is not destined to match Jimmy White in never taking the biggest prize in snooker. His supreme talent surely deserves better than that.
Murphy narrow favourite for final
Murphy looks the slight favourite in the final, after showing consistent form all through this year's tournament. He can also draw on the experience of having played in the last-two stages on two previous occasions. Besides his elation in 2005, he has also felt the anguish of defeat in 2009, being outclassed by John Higgins in the final. Should he move into an early lead, he will take some stopping.The latter stages at the Crucible are completely novel to Bingham. The Essex man will hope to emulate another man from his county, O'Sullivan, as he seeks a first title in Sheffield. After the euphoria of defeating O'Sullivan and now Trump at this year's event, he may well feel that this is his time at 38-years-old to join the ranks of the greats of the game.