Shaun Murphy says he is tailoring his career heading into his bid for a second Masters title due to neck, shoulder and back problems that have affected him for the best part of a decade.
The 2015 Masters winner, who also won the World Championship back in 2005, takes on Barry Hawkins in Monday’s evening session.
Murphy’s season has seen him reach just one ranking quarter-final so far, and the 39-year-old admits he is not able to practice for as long as he would like due to the injury issues.
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“It flared up many years ago, not many snooker players wouldn’t have a neck or back issue,’ Murphy told Metro.co.uk. “A physio explained to me that snooker is one of the worst standing positions to take for your body. Bending is fine but then asking your neck to extend to see down the line of the shot. It’s that movement, then everyone’s got a little twist as well which makes it worse.

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“It first came into my life in around 2013, I had a terrible experience with it in the 2015 World final, woke up in the morning of the final and couldn’t look to my left. The whole morning ahead of the final was with [coach] Chris Henry trying to do a makeshift physio job on me, trying to release some of the muscles in my back so I was at least able to walk out there and play.
From then on it’s been managing it, then not keeping on top of it as much as I should. This time it’s flared up and not gone away so I’m now having to tailor my career around it.
“The days of me doing five-seven hours practice a day and competing in every tournament are probably over. I probably now have to settle to do a couple of hours a day or even every other day to get to a tournament pain-free. Which is great for golf! Time will tell how much effect that will have on my snooker.”

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Murphy won the Welsh Open in 2020 and then reached last year’s World Championship final, but since losing to Mark Selby, ‘The Magician’ has struggled for form, in part down to an injury which has seen him play through the pain of late.
He added: “The injury in my neck and shoulder doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. It started to get onto me at the English, every shot I played at Champion of Champions was in pain. Pretty much every shot I played at the UK Championships was in pain.
“It’s not been the season I’ve been hoping for so far, but I can look myself in the mirror and know that it’s not that I’ve been playing badly, a few things have gone against me and some players have played out of their boots against me.
“I love playing at Ally Pally, the event has really found a home there, the crowd play their part and having won it there, it’s always nice returning to a venue you’ve had success at. I’m really looking forward to it, my game’s in good shape when I’m able to play and I hope I’m able to walk out there in as little pain as possible and put on a good show.”
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