/ Snooker

Shaun Murphy makes a surprise exit

Updated: Monday, 23 Apr 2012 19:17

Ronnie O'Sullivan is in complete control against Peter Ebdon
Ronnie O'Sullivan is in complete control against Peter Ebdon

Ronnie O'Sullivan turned the most keenly-anticipated first-round match at the Betfred.com World Championship into a procession as he surged 7-2 ahead of Peter Ebdon.

Seven years have passed since Ebdon came from 8-2 behind to defeat O'Sullivan 13-11 in the quarter-finals, staging his fightback on a famous night when his slow play drew criticism.

Neither man is likely to ever forget that match, but Ebdon might be eager to put their current battle behind him after being comprehensively outplayed.

Ebdon came to Sheffield as an in-form player, having won the China Open at the start of April and then qualified for the World Championship with a 10-0 win over Alfie Burden.

He has lost weight on a strict vegan diet, and is physically fit to last the distance in Sheffield, but his game was no match for a hungry O'Sullivan, who was watched by his friend, the artist Damien Hirst.

The drama in the session came in the opening frame. Ebdon took 40 seconds deliberating over his first shot, offering a reminder of how pedestrian his play was in their 2005 clash.

The frame could have gone either way, but O'Sullivan had a clear opening when he potted pink and could have added the black, although it was awkward. Playing it left-handed, O'Sullivan missed it, and Ebdon potted it to force a 64-64 tie, meaning it went down to a re-spotted black.

Ebdon almost missed the ball entirely. O'Sullivan missed what was a gift of a chance.

Eventually O'Sullivan sank the black, but Ebdon soon levelled up at 1-1.

It was Ebdon's last success until the final frame of the session, with O'Sullivan at times ruthless, at other times doing just enough to surge comfortably clear of an opponent who was struggling to live up to his own pre-match expectations of himself. There was a century from O'Sullivan in barely five minutes in frame three. In 2005 it took Ebdon as long to make a run of 12.

Ebdon gave himself a glimmer of hope with a break of 90, but will return tomorrow afternoon needing a comeback on a familiar scale.

Shaun Murphy became the biggest casualty yet as qualifier Jamie Jones scored a big victory for Wales on his debut.

Jones, a 24-year-old from near Neath, raised eyebrows with a 10-2 victory over world number 15 Ricky Walden in the final qualifying round, and he also beat reigning Crucible champion John Higgins at the PTC Finals in Galway last month.

He said the wins would give him momentum for going to the Crucible and that was clearly the case as he bounced out 2005 champion Murphy, winning 10-8 to set up a second-round clash with Andrew Higginson or Stephen Lee.

Murphy said: "It's certainly not how I saw the tournament going.
"I thought the match was really high quality.

"I really enjoyed it, which sounds funny considering I got beaten. I thought Jamie held himself together really well and he didn't play like a debutant. I've certainly played a lot worse myself and won before."

Jones said: "I've never felt any pressure like it in my life. I've never known an occasion like it.

"For my Crucible debut I think I played pretty well. That's definitely not my best though. I can play better than that.

"Everyone in the village where I live has been watching on TV and my phone hasn't stopped going since I left the table. It'll be like a circus at home."

Live!
Game On
Powered by NewsWhip