Masters 2023: Shaun Murphy holds back from defending champion Neil Robertson

Masters 2023: Shaun Murphy holds back from defending champion Neil Robertson

Shaun Murphy
Shaun Murphy and Neil Robertson had previously met twice in the final of the Masters, with the Englishman winning in 2015
Place: Alexandra Palace, London Dates: 8 January -15. January
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV and Red Button with uninterrupted coverage on BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app

Shaun Murphy held off a comeback from defending champion Neil Robertson to reach the quarter-finals of the Masters with a 6-4 win at Alexandra Palace.

Murphy, the 2015 winner, made breaks of 98, 53, 61 and 100 before securing victory in a nervous 10th frame.

Robertson, who opened with 73, went 5-1 down before reeling off three consecutive frames that included breaks of 84 and 104.

Murphy will now face Kyren Wilson or Stuart Bingham in the last eight on Friday.

“I was as surprised as anyone to find myself 5-1 up,” Murphy told BBC Sport.

“The seventh frame won’t be in the highlights and then I sat in my chair for 45 minutes while he played snooker from the gods.

“You think ‘he’s on the blue, people are going to say it’s a collapse’, but in the end it wasn’t. My game is good, but I had very good advice from my daughter on Instagram, who said ” dad remember to pot some balls’.

“It was just about winning. And victories in these big gala events have been thin on the ground for me in recent seasons.”

Three-time champion Mark Selby takes on Iran’s Hossein Vafaei in Sunday’s second first-round match (19:00 GMT).

Debutant Vafaei replaced Zhao Xintong at the Masters after the 2021 UK champion opted not to appeal his suspension from World Snooker Tour events amid a investigation of match-fixing.

Robertson’s revival comes too late

Robertson, who had to go home after initially forgetting his cue, drew attention to a later-than-expected arrival at the venue by claiming the first frame with a break of 73.

That was basically as good as it got for the Australian in a repeat of the 2012 and 2015 finals.

Murphy, whose long potting was excellent throughout, responded with a stunning 98-and-a-half century before going into the mid-session interval with a healthy 3-1 lead.

Both players suffered lapses in concentration in the fifth frame, missing easy chances on the green before Murphy extended his advantage after Robertson put the pink over the pocket in the bottom right corner.

A misguided black was expertly punished in the sixth frame when Murphy made 100.

But a scrappy seventh frame in which both players had good opportunities laid the platform for a stirring Robertson revival that continued with a quick half-century and a maximum of 147 tries that ended after 13 reds and 13 blacks.

However, a missed blue from his spot at left center and then another in the same pocket proved costly for Robertson in the next and allowed Murphy to wrap up victory and avoid a decision in the final frame.

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