Shaun Murphy
Murphy needs four frames in the evening session to win a first Masters title.Getty Images

Shaun Murphy requires just four frames to claim a first Masters snooker title and complete a career triple crown after dominating world No.1 Neil Robertson at Alexandra Palace.

Murphy leads 6-2 heading into the evening session (which begins at 7pm GMT, 18 January) and is within touching distance of adding the Masters crown to his UK and World Championship successes.

Robertson, who defeated Murphy in the 2012 final, failed to reproduce any of the form which saw him knock-out Ronnie O'Sullivan in the semi-final and must stage an almighty turnaround to stand any chance of winning a second title of the season.

Both players had sauntered to the showcase final at the English capital, with Robertson having lost just six frames this week, while Murphy had seen off world champion Mark Selby on the way to setting up a repeat of the final from three years ago.

The 32-year-old Murphy, seeking a fifth title of the year, stormed into the ascendency with a break of 64 and the second frame also went the way of the Harlow-born player despite Robertson making a break of 30.

If Murphy had perhaps been fortunate in taking the opening two frames, there was nothing fortuitous about the manner in which he took a 3-0 lead, as a break of 127 helped him take a firm grip of the first session.

Robertson continued to be out of sorts, missing a long brown and allowing Murphy to accumulate a break of 76 to take all of the first four frames in convincing and emphatic fashion.

The first frame after the mid-session interval brought with it a return to the scrappy snooker which had defined the opening exchanges, with both players succumbing to the pressure of the occasion.

Murphy and Robertson spurned two chances each to take the frame in a visit, the latter making an inspired cut red into the top left before faulting, and his opponent took full advantage with a break of 43 to open up a healthy lead.

Having shown signs of cracking, Robertson finally took advantage of a Murphy error and in amongst the balls made a fine break of 80 to get on the scoreboard and build some momentum ahead of the twilight of the first session.

But that momentum was stifled by Murphy again with a 70, helped by a fine red after bridging over the pack, leading to him re-establishing the five-frame lead.

A safety exchange in the final frame of the afternoon eventually saw Robertson prevail and a clearance kept him in touch with Murphy heading into the evening, but he requires a comeback of epic proportions to take the title.