Murphy Ends Trump’s Palace Reign

Judd Trump’s hopes of defending his Dafabet Masters title were dashed in the first round at Alexandra Palace as he lost 6-3 to Shaun Murphy.

So far, each of the first five matches at snooker’s biggest invitation event have been won by the lower ranked player, and Trump follows Ding Junhui, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and Mark Allen as early casualties. Murphy goes through to face Joe Perry in the quarter-finals on Thursday afternoon.

Today’s result is hardly a shock as Murphy himself is a Triple Crown winner and has a title under his belt this season having won the China Championship.

But it’s a significant blow to Trump’s top-dog status. The world number one enjoyed the best year of his career in 2019, winning the Masters, the World Championship and four other titles. He started 2020 with the perfect warm-up by winning a Championship League group last week, but Murphy looked the sharper player in the closing stages today.

Trump took the opening frame with a break of 128 then Murphy dominated the second and made a 71 to lead 2-1. Two more centuries from Trump, 116 and 119, put him 3-2 up.

Bristol’s Trump had first chance in frame six and made 47, then Murphy made a 77 clearance which shifted the momentum. A 52 clearance in the next gave world number ten Murphy the lead, and in frame eight he converted a superb long pot on the penultimate red and made 41 to lead 5-3. Runs of 34 and 47 in frame nine were enough to give him victory.

“Judd is a joy to watch and he made three great centuries early on,” said 37-year-old Murphy. “But those only give you one frame and getting to six first is the only statistic that matters. My safety was decent, I fed off his mistakes and made some vital clearances.

“I first came to this tournament at Wembley Conference Centre as a 12-year-old and sat there with my big bag of M&Ms wondering if I would ever get to play in it. Since my first time I have taken to it well. My wife says I’m the biggest show-off she knows and snooker’s just my outlet. I’m never happier than when I’m out there in front of everyone.”

Trump said: “I’m very disappointed although I don’t feel I played that badly. Shaun is a class player and he held himself together well. The sixth frame was important because if I had gone 4-2 up I would have been full of confidence.”