Stuart Bingham remains on course to be the first first-time winner to defend the Masters title since Paul Hunter in 2002 after beating Shaun Murphy 6-3 to reach the semi-finals.
It’s not a match that will live long in the memory, as the odd occasional bit of quality was overshadowed by periods of sloppy, turgid snooker.
There is no love lost between the pair following a falling out, and it appeared tension in the Marshall Arena dragged the standard of play down. But Bingham produced the one moment of real quality, a break of 133, and it helped him over the line and to a meeting with either Stephen Maguire or Yan Bingtao in the last four.
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The opening frame was scrappy, with both players looking extremely nervous. Murphy was able to stumble over the line to take the frame, but Bingham hit back swiftly in the second with a break of 133 - the highest of his Masters career.
On the back of his century in the previous frame, Bingham had a chance in the third but he missed a red into the middle and Murphy stepped in with a couple of good pots to take the frame and wrestle the advantage back.
The fourth appeared to be heading Murphy’s way as he took a commanding lead, but he did not close it out and allowed the defending champion to chip away at the lead.
Bingham knocked a long red into the yellow pocket to give himself an outside chance of a steal, but he still had a lot to do - with the pink tight on the side cushion.
The colours were rolled in and Bingham left himself an angle to double the pink. He knocked it in without hesitation and dropped perfectly on the black to take the frame and level the match.
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Bingham left for the mid-session interval with a spring in his step and let out a little bit of emotion. He seized on another miss from Murphy in the fifth and a break of 91 enabled him to take the lead for the first time in the match.
There was a look of steely determination about Bingham as he sat in his chair waiting for the sixth frame to begin. He had momentum on his side, and was aided by some scrambled thinking from Murphy who attempted a red that looked impossible to make. It cost him as the defending champion took the frame to open up a two-frame cushion.
Murphy looked all at sea in the sixth, but the 2005 world champion is a hardened competitor and a 70 break in the seventh gave him a foothold in the match.
The eighth was a 47-minute war of attrition that went Bingham's way. It enabled him to halt a potential rally from Murphy and he closed out the contest one frame later, but it was appropriate for the match that he needed a number of chances to get over the line.
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