Neil Robertson’s Masters title defense ended early by Shaun Murphy

Neil Robertson’s Masters title defense ended early by Shaun Murphy

Neil Robertson’s Masters title defense ended early by Shaun Murphy

Shaun Murphy held off a spirited fight from Neil Robertson to knock out the defending champion from the Cazoo Masters in the first round.

Robertson won the first frame with a break of 73, but Murphy won the next five in succession thanks to contributions of 98, 53, 61 and 100, the century that comes after Robertson made a terrible mistake with Black.

Murphy had a chance to wrap up the win in a 48 minute seventh frame only to miss the green after an excellent bounce on the yellow with the rest and that looked to be a turning point.

Robertson made a break of 84 to reduce his deficit and then was on pace for a match-high break of 147 in the ninth frame before missing a difficult 14 red into the yellow pocket.

The left-hander had a chance to force a decider when Murphy missed at 54 in frame 10, but missed the blue in the middle trying to force position at the final red and a relieved Murphy sealed a 6-4 win.

“I was as surprised as anyone to find myself up 5-1,” Murphy told the BBC. “I played well but of course against Neil you don’t expect to be in that position.

“Seventh frame, which won’t be in the best of times, we both had chances, and since then I’ve sat in the chair for 45 minutes while he played pool of the gods.

shaun murphy

Shaun Murphy during his 6-4 victory over Neil Robertson during day one of the Cazoo Masters at London’s Alexandra Palace (John Walton/PA)

“I was pushed around by this huge crowd here this afternoon. As a snooker player, if you can’t do it here, in front of one of our best crowds that we play in front of all year, where can you do it?

“It’s great to be back, I didn’t enjoy the last half hour I have to say, but overall it’s been a good season, my game has been going in the right direction.”

Murphy will play either Kyren Wilson or Stuart Bingham in the quarterfinals.

Robertson revealed that he had been suffering from a “horrendous bout of flu” in the build up to the match.

“I’ve really been in bed for a week and a half and Mille (his wife) has done incredibly well, because she’s also had enough to look after the kids and allow me to rest as much as possible.” she told Eurosport.

“I’ve been going to the club and doing about 45 minutes (practice), about the most I can do… with a lot of painkillers and I was really struggling physically.

“I have to thank the crowd, they gave me something, especially on the 147 attempt. I just wanted to make a max somehow and then be happy even losing.”

Three-time winner Mark Selby also suffered an early exit losing 6-2 to Iranian debutant Hossein Vafaei.

mark selby

Mark Selby lost 6-2 to rookie Hossein Vafaei on day one of the Cazoo Masters at Alexandra Palace (John Walton/PA)

Vafaei, who took Zhao Xintong’s place in the draw after the Chinese star became one of 10 players suspended from the tour amid a match-fixing investigation, made two centuries and more breaks of 99, 52 and 65 to beat Selby for the third time. in succession.

In contrast, Selby’s highest night break was just 49, as he suffered a third first-round loss at the Masters in the last four years.

“I can’t believe it,” Vafaei told Eurosport. “Am I asleep or awake? I honestly can’t believe it.

“He is such a tough opponent that he never gives up. He is a legend and it is a pleasure to share a table with him.

“I am very proud of myself for beating him again. He’s one of the best ambassadors we have, so I’m very happy to get the hat-trick against him.”

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