Shaun Murphy is backing Neil Robertson to win the Betfred World Championship after suffering a Crucible exit.
The 2005 world champion simply had no answer to Australian Robertson, who needed just three frames last night – with breaks of 120, 88 and 95 – to convert a 10-6 lead into a 13-6 victory.
“I was bang under it from the moment I was drawn against Neil Robertson,” said Murphy, who managed to pot just one ball in the final session.
“He was just too good, he played too well, scored too well, his safety was too good, his tactical play was too clever, and frankly if he keeps playing like that he’ll win the tournament.
“If he keeps playing like that get the engravers ready, his name’s going on the trophy.”
The contest between Murphy and Robertson – the 2010 world champion, who has won three ranking titles this season – was finely balanced in the opening two sessions.
But at 8-6 yesterday morning the world No 4 grabbed the final two frames before returning to finish the job and secure a quarter-final with either John Higgins or Stuart Bingham.
“The first session (Thursday) was a wonderful standard from both of us,” said Robertson, who bagged three centuries and six other 50-plus breaks.
“(Yesterday) morning was a little bit tougher, there were some close frames, but I pinched a couple of big frames on the black.
“(Last night) was a great way to finish off the match. I’m playing with freedom. It’s a lot easier said than done, but I’m just going out there and playing.
“There will always be nervous moments, because as a competitor you want to win. Just ask my son, when we play Monopoly or Scrabble I hate losing, even to him – if I lose I flip the board over. But at the same time the bigger picture is going out there and performing for the crowd, hoping they see a great match and making some big breaks for them.
“I’d love to win it, no doubt whatsoever, but I’m just trying to play well and it’s working.”
Defending world champion Mark Williams has revealed doctors are confident his health scare is not related to his heart after going to hospital suffering from chest pains.
The Welshman lost the opening session of his second-round match with David Gilbert 5-3 in Sheffield.
Later, Williams posted on Twitter that he was in the A&E department of a local hospital, saying: “Couldn’t stick the chest pains no more.”
The 44-year-old informed tournament officials of the issue after the session and was advised by the on-call doctor to attend hospital. Williams made his own way there and is understood to be with his wife Joanne and son Kian. Williams posted an encouraging update during yesterday evening.
“Doctors are confident it’s not anything to do with my heart,” he tweeted. “Awaiting more tests at 10 o clock . #cantwaitformebed.”
Breaks of 105, 66 and 58 had earlier helped Williams get back on level terms against Gilbert, but the latter took the last two frames of the day to carve out a 5-3 lead. Their match is due to resume at 10am today.
Three-time Crucible champion Mark Selby also returns this morning, looking to overturn a 9-7 deficit against Wallsend’s Gary Wilson.
Leading 5-3 after the opening session, Wilson – the world No 32 – saw his lead eroded as Selby went 7-6 in front with breaks of 64, 84, 120 and 74. But Wilson held his nerve to win the final three frames of the session – thanks to scores of 97, 115 and 78 – to take an overnight 9-7 lead.
Stephen Maguire leads James Cahill by the same scoreline, ahead of their afternoon resumption.