Shaun Murphy sealed his second ranking event victory of the season in style but says snooker is the 'hardest sport in the world', writes Will Jennings.

The world No.10 was in thrilling form in his ManBetX Welsh Open final against Kyren Wilson, breezing past the three-time ranking event winner 9-1 to lift two major trophies in the same season for the first time in his career.

Murphy raced into a remarkable 7-1 lead at the interval after breaks of 108, 84, 76 and 134, before ruthlessly finishing the job with efforts of 102 and 73 to cap off a stunning performance at Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena.

And after enduring considerable struggles over the past year - he thought about hanging up his cue in the summer - Murphy believes his chosen profession is the most difficult in sport.

"I think without the physicality of boxing, snooker is the hardest sport in the world," he said.

"Snooker is quite gladiatorial - we're out here on our own, we don't have teammates and we don't have caddies, so it is quite difficult and I can't think of another sport that's like it.

"You're out there and it's just you, and when your opponent is in play, there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.

"There were a lot of stern conversations in the summer, and I'm very thankful for those around me who helped me through and who nursed me back to health, who believed in me and who sent me on my way.

"Certainly when I first voiced my concerns and opinions to those around me, there was no way I could ever see myself there as a winner ever again and I didn't think I had it in me.

"At the end of last season I was contemplating my future in snooker because I just didn't feel necessarily that as a bloke, I had the spirit or heart for it anymore.

"I'm absolutely overjoyed tonight - this is what we play for, that winning feeling and getting handed the trophy at the end of a tournament, and all those boyhood dreams, all that practice, all those hours are for this, so it's very special."

The Murphy steam train just kept on rolling in the Welsh capital as he stormed into a whirlwind 2-0 lead, before a sixth-frame 76 handed him an astonishing 6-0 advantage.

And there was nothing a stunned Wilson - who hit a maximum 147 break and also beat Ronnie O'Sullivan earlier in the week - could do despite pulling a frame back in the seventh.

The 2005 world champion then crafted fine efforts of 134, 102 and 73 to complete the procession, sealing the largest margin of victory in any Welsh Open final.

And Murphy, who will now begin to ramp up preparations for the Betfred World Championship in April, believes his cueing is in the most fluent shape of his career.

"I think my game is in the best shape it's ever been in, frankly," he added.

"I'll go to Sheffield, regardless of what happens in the next few weeks, in good form and feeling good about things.

"I feel like my game is in a completely different space these days compared to where it was when I was world champion, and I feel a little bit more mature around the edges.

"I am trending in the right direction with my game and it's in good shape - it's been a good season so far, and everyone's got one eye on that trophy in Sheffield now.

"But it's always important to celebrate the good times as they don't come around too often, and I'm sure there'll be a few celebratory drinks with friends in the bar tonight."

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