Neil Robertson holds a healthy 10-6 advantage over Shaun Murphy heading into this evening’s concluding session of their Betfred World Championship second round tie in Sheffield.
Australia’s 2010 World Champion Robertson is competing in the last 16 of the World Championship for the tenth time. He has enjoyed one of his finest seasons on the World Snooker Tour, having picked up titles at the Riga Masters, Welsh Open and China Open.
Murphy came into this week off the back of one of his worst ever seasons on the professional circuit. He has suffered nine first round defeats during the campaign. However, he returned to his dazzling best in the opening round. The Magician destroyed China’s Luo Honghao 10-0 to become only the second player in Crucible history to inflict a whitewash on his opponent, following John Parrott’s 10-0 win over Eddie Charlton in 1992.
Robertson came into the session with a 5-3 lead. As play got underway this morning, 37-year-old Robertson extended that advantage by making a break of 67 to move 6-3 ahead. Murphy then pulled one back and they traded frames to arrive at the mid-session with Robertson leading 7-5.
Robertson then edged further in front. However, Murphy replied once more with a break of 59 to make it 8-6. The subsequent 15th frame could prove to be pivotal.
Murphy had looked set to move within one, before missing a frame ball brown, Robertson punished that error. He eventually converted a long range blue and cleared to the black to steal the frame. Robertson compounded the disappointment for Murphy by taking the last frame of the session to end it 10-6 up. They will return to play the best of 25 clash to a finish at 7pm.
On the other table, Stephen Maguire opened up 5-3 advantage against the Crucible’s first ever amateur competitor James Cahill.
Scotland’s Maguire booked his second round spot thanks to a nerve-jangling 10-9 win over Tian Pengfei. While Cahill hit the headlines with a giant killing 10-8 defeat of world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Maguire made two century runs of 103 and 125 to open up a 5-2 lead. However, Cahill took an important 38-minute final frame of the session to end just two behind at 5-3.