Home BME Masters 2023: Shaun Murphy holds off fightback from defending champion Neil Robertson

Masters 2023: Shaun Murphy holds off fightback from defending champion Neil Robertson

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Masters 2023: Shaun Murphy holds off fightback from defending champion Neil Robertson

Shaun Murphy and Neil Robertson had previously met twice in the final of the Masters, with the Englishman winning in 2015
Venue: Alexandra Palace, London Dates: 8 January -15 January
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV and Red Button with uninterrupted coverage on BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app

Shaun Murphy held off a fightback from defending champion Neil Robertson to reach the quarter-finals of the Masters with a 6-4 win at Alexandra Palace.

Murphy, the 2015 winner, made breaks of 98, 53, 61 and 100 before sealing his victory in a nervy 10th frame.

Robertson, who opened with a 73, went 5-1 down before reeling off three consecutive frames that included breaks of 84 and 104.

Murphy now faces Kyren Wilson or Stuart Bingham in the last eight on Friday.

“I was surprised as anyone to find myself 5-1 ahead,” Murphy told BBC Sport.

“The seventh frame won’t be on the highlights and then I sat in my chair for 45 minutes while he played snooker from the gods.

“You are thinking ‘he’s on the blue people are going to say it’s a collapse’, but it wasn’t in the end. My game is good but I had really good advice from my daughter on Instagram, who said ‘Daddy remember to pot some balls’.

“It was just about getting the win. And wins in these big gala events have been thin on the ground for me over the last few seasons.”

Three-time champion Mark Selby takes on Iran’s Hossein Vafaei in Sunday’s other first-round match (19:00 GMT).

Debutant Vafaei replaced Zhao Xintong at the Masters after the 2021 UK Champion chose not to appeal against his suspension from World Snooker Tour events amid a match-fixing investigation.

Robertson’s revival comes too late

Robertson, who had to return home after initially forgetting his cue, made light of a later than expected arrival at the venue by claiming the first frame with a break of 73.

That was initially as good as it got for the Australian in a repeat of the 2012 and 2015 finals.

Murphy, whose long potting was excellent throughout, responded with a wonderful 98 and another half century before going into the mid-session interval with a healthy 3-1 lead.

Both players suffered lapses of concentration in the fifth frame, missing easy chances on the green before Murphy extended his advantage after Robertson left the pink over the bottom right corner pocket.

A miscued black off its spot was expertly punished in the sixth frame as Murphy made a composed 100.

But a scrappy seventh frame in which both players had good opportunities laid the platform for a stirring Robertson revival that continued with a swift half century and a maximum 147 attempt that ended after 13 reds and 13 blacks.

However, a missed blue off its spot into the left middle and then another into the same pocket proved costly for Robertson in the next and allowed Murphy to wrap up victory and avoid a final-frame decider.

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