After scoring a 5-3 success over Jimmy Robertson in the third round of the inaugural Nirvana Turkish Masters, Shaun Murphy described the part he has played in developing snooker as a global sport as one of the most fulfilling elements of his career.
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Former World Champion Murphy has won tournaments in countries including Brazil, China, Malta, Belgium, Ireland, Poland, Bulgaria and Germany and is recognised as one of the sport’s finest ambassadors. He is enjoying the opportunity to compete in the first ever ranking event in Turkey.
“This is a fabulous event, a really good addition to the tour,” said the 39-year-old. “I certainly enjoy taking snooker to new territories, I have been part of that group of players over the last 20 years who have tried to make the game better. When the end of my career comes, my dream is that I have helped make snooker a better tour than it was when I joined in 1998.
“We come out to new countries like this where snooker is popular through Eurosport and other broadcasters and it’s great to be here and put on a good show for the fans. I came to Turkey on holiday soon after I won the world title in 2005 and was well aware that snooker was popular in this part of the world, so it’s no surprise to me that we have a big tournament here now.”
Today’s victory over Robertson put Murphy into the last 16 of a ranking event for only the third time this season. Having struggled with a neck injury for most of the campaign, he lies 38th on the one-year ranking list.
Trailing 2-1, Murphy made a break of 91 to level the tie then took the 43-minute fifth frame on the colours after Robertson had missed the brown to a centre pocket. A run of 95 from Robertson restored parity at 3-3, but he potted just one ball in the last two frames as Murphy closed out the tie and earned a meeting with Jak Jones in the last 16.
“I am very relieved,” Murphy added. “I came here with very few wins under my belt this season, so each match is an opportunity for me to try a few different things. There’s still a distant chance of me qualifying for the Tour Championship, if everyone else retires! I’m trying my best as always and thrilled to still be here.”
Ding Junhui came from 3-1 down to beat Kyren Wilson 5-3 and reach the last 16 of a ranking event for only the second time this season. China’s 34-year-old Ding hasn’t won a title since the 2019 UK Championship and has slipped to 32nd in the world rankings.
Breaks of 75, 103 and 100 put him 4-3 up today and he sealed victory in a 64-minute eighth frame, ending a long safety battle on the colours with a superb long pot on the pink to a baulk corner.
“It was a good game,” said 14-time ranking event winner Ding. “Kyren played well at the start and I missed some chances. Then he got a bit angry because he was not scoring well. The game changed. There is a big pressure for me because I keep dropping down the rankings and it’s a long way to get back up. I have to focus on practice and concentrate in matches.
“Chinese players are winning tournaments now which is good for the snooker market. I am looking forward to seeing more of them winning titles. When I was first winning tournaments they were little boys. It’s good to watch them grow up and improve their game, and to have been their hero.”
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh improved his chances of keeping his tour card at the end of the season by beating Jordan Brown 5-1, compiling breaks of 92, 72 and 51. Un-Nooh is now guaranteed £7,500 this week and the result lifts the former Shoot Out champion into the top 64 of the provisional end of season rankings.
Jak Jones followed up yesterday’s 5-4 win over Mark Allen with another deciding frame victory, against Hossein Vafaei. Breaks of 102 and 101 helped put Vafaei 4-2 ahead and he had chances to finish the match in frames seven and eight, but it was Welshman Jones who won the last three with a top run of 94.
Martin Gould came from 4-3 down to edge out Jack Lisowski 5-4 while Oliver Lines saw off Andrew Higginson 5-3 with a top run of 113.