Shaun Murphy produced a supreme display to take a clean sweep of the frames and lead China’s 19-year-old Luo Honghao 9-0 after the first session of their Betfred World Championship round one tie.
Crucible debutant Luo has been given a harsh introduction to competing at snooker’s biggest event. 2005 World Champion Murphy restricted Luo to just 78 points and requires only one more frame for victory in the best of 19 clash.
That means Luo is in danger of setting a new record low for points scored in a Crucible match. Danny Fowler currently holds the unwanted record, having only managed 191 points in his 10-1 defeat to Stephen Hendry in 1993. The only ever player to suffer a Crucible whitewash was Eddie Charlton, who lost 10-0 to John Parrott in 1992.
It was a session which saw Murphy, nicknamed the Magician, return to his spellbinding best form. The seven-time ranking event winner had come into this week off the back of one of his worst seasons in recent years, having suffered nine first round exits.
Despite that, Triple Crown winner Murphy looked as sharp as ever when play got underway, putting on a relentless showing of break building power which included four centuries. He crafted contributions of 138, 102, 101, 76, 62 and 123. They return tomorrow morning at 10am to play to a conclusion.
The winner of this match faces either Neil Robertson or Michael Georgiou, who are in a similar situation in their first round tie.
Australia’s 2010 World Champion Robertson also holds a 9-0 advantage, having restricted his Cypriot counterpart to just 107 points in their match.
Robertson and Georgiou finish off their tie this evening at 7pm.
Gary Wilson leads Belgium’s Luca Brecel 9-8 in their opening round contest, which was pulled off before they could reach a conclusion this afternoon.
Brecel had led 7-5, before a superb charge from Wallsend’s Wilson saw him surge back into contention. He made breaks of 106, 85 and 55 as he took four frames in a row to move 9-7 in front. However, Brecel claimed a nervy final frame to stay in the tie at 9-8.
They will play to a finish on the first available table in this evening’s session.