Robert Milkins has won his second career ranking title in a spectacular Welsh Open final against Shaun ‘The Magician‘ Murphy, narrowly beating him 9-7. Milkins’ only other ranking title win was at last year’s Gibraltar Open, making this victory a career landmark as he begins to find his true form on the table.
Milkins, aged 46, expressed his delight at beating Murphy in the final, saying, ‘Gibraltar was brilliant but beating Shaun in a final is the icing on the cake. You have to play well to beat Shaun.’ And, as anyone in the crowd can attest, Milkins not only played well but he kept his cool under pressure, potted the tough shots and eventually pulled into the lead to take the final.
The Welsh Open final, held for the first time at Llandudno’s Venue Cymru, was level after the afternoon session, following a brave comeback from Milkins. After initially going 3-1 down, Milkins battled his way back from the dead to win the next three frames and level the game at 4-4.
In the evening session, Milkins took the lead for the first time, winning three of the first four frames to move 7-5 ahead at the mid-session interval. The outcome at the mid-session was looking good for Milkins because earlier, when the game was level at 5-5, Murphy appeared to be getting into his stride for the second time in the match. Even so, Milkins went on to win the following two frames, gaining a comfortable lead for the first time in the match, raising more than a few eyebrows in the commentary box.
With the score at 7-5, Milkins went on to win the 13th frame, increasing his lead to 8-5, leaving him just one crucial frame from victory. Murphy immediately responded with a thunderous break of 114 to leave the score at 8-6. But Milkins wasn’t done yet, and with the prize money firmly in his sights, he hit back with a solid break of 64 to secure victory in the final at 9-7.
Murphy, the 2005 World Champion, was simply outmatched in this close-fought contest. Murphy admitted that he had made ‘far too many unforced errors’ and confessed that he ‘couldn’t have tried any harder.’
Murphy played extremely well and scored the only century of the match but Milkins performed more consistently and put the vital points on the board when it really counted. ‘All credit to Rob, he was by far the better player. He fully deserved the victory,’ said Murphy after the match, once again showing that he’s not only a great player but gracious in defeat.
In addition to the £80,000 Welsh Open prize money, Milkins also won an additional £150,000 by gaining the top spot in the eight-match BetVictor series ranking list, taking his total earnings for the week to £230,000. ‘It’s unreal – that’s a lot of money to me,’ Milkins admitted after beating his fellow Englishman, Murphy, in the final. The victory for Milkins at the Welsh Open puts him back into the world’s top 16 players.