World number 51 Jamie Jones recorded a thrilling 10-9 victory against 2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy at the Betfred World Championship.
The Welshman couldn’t have qualified for the event in a more emphatic fashion. He destroyed 2016 English Open Champion Liang Wenbo 10-0 in the final round of qualifying to ensure his place here. However, he was forced to call upon all of his fighting abilities in this clash – coming from 4-1 and 8-5 down.
It was a case of déjà vu for world number eight Murphy. He lost out to Jones 10-8 in the first round in 2012 when the Welshman made his Crucible debut. The Magician has now dropped out at the first-round stage in two of the last three years following his run to the final in 2015.
Jones took the opening frame of the session, but it was Murphy who made the most significant charge towards the finish early on. He fired in consecutive breaks of 59, 102 and 101 to establish an 8-5 advantage.
Former Crucible quarter-finalist Jones re-grouped at the interval and came out firing with three frames on the bounce to level at 8-8. Murphy took the next to move one from victory, but his opponent showed his steel with a sublime run of 124 to make it 9-9. Jones made 41 early in the decider before running out of position. He then got the better of a safety exchange and added 30 to seal victory.
“I think this is my best victory,” said Neath’s 30-year-old Jones. “I’ve never faced pressure like I felt today. I’ve played plenty of deciders, but there’s pressure at the Crucible in frame one, never mind the decider. So to come through having held myself together is very pleasing. It’s all about momentum. If the interval hadn’t come today at 8-5, I think Shaun might have pulled away. It’s difficult to deal with those stops and starts with the intervals, but you’ve just got to play every frame as it comes and just try your best.
“Maybe it was meant to be. I always enjoy playing Shaun, he plays the game in the right way. He’s very entertaining and goes for his shots. It’s nice as a player to see him going for shots all the time because he won’t pot them all the time. He looks devastating when they’re going in, but if they don’t you tend to get a couple of chances, and I capitalised on them today.”
Murphy said: “I must give Jamie full credit, because when he sets foot into the Yorkshire borders there seems to be this weird change in him. That’s not me being critical, but if I was in his team I’d be trying to work out what happens to make him play far better here than he generally does elsewhere. If he can play like here then he should be higher up the rankings than he is.
“I’m just pleased I won this tournament in 2005 when I didn’t know what I was doing and had no battle scars and didn’t understand fear. I’m a bit older now and a bit more frightened.”
Asia’s top star Ding Junhui established a 6-3 advantage against compatriot Xiao Guodong.
The 2016 Crucible finalist holds an impressive record against Xiao, having won four of their five professional meetings.
Ding trailed 2-0 early on but hit back to win six of the next seven frames as he fired in contributions of 68, 124, 57 and 72. They resume on Tuesday at 10am.