The dafabet World Championship my be only in its second day,but we have already seen what makes this event so special after a day of high drama at the Crucible Theatre.
Its hard to know where even to start with today,but I'll begin with the night session which produced two dramatic final frame deciders.
2005 champ Shaun Murphy had to dig deep into his reserves to finally get past a resurgent Jamie Cope 10-9 after a tense final session that really could have gone either way.The opening frame indeed was sign of what was to come as Cope got in first with a 64 break before missing a red & Murphy cleared with a 75 to level the match at 5-5.Cope,to his credit didn't let this get him down,won the next two to lead 7-5 before Murphy won the next to share the evenings spoils going to the interval.
Murphy also won the next to level things at 7-7,which was then followed by 8-8 and 9-9 to set up the decider this one had seemed destined to have from early on in the evening. In that deciding frame both players had their .chances,but it was Murphy who proved the stronger,finally sealing the victory on the pink. For him it will be much relief that he has survived this early potential banana skin,but also lets hope that Jamie can get over this disappointment and get back to where he was in the game before his troubles began a few seasons back.There is no doubt he is a super talent.
Meanwhile on the other side of the screen Stephen Maguire was battling for all he was worth against Ryan Day but to no avail as the Welshman held his nerve to win 10-9. This was a real high quality match and the fact that it went to a decider says much about Maguires fighting qualities as he trailed 8-4 and 9-6 at different stages in the. night.From 9-6 down he had actually produced some of his best snooker to reel off three in a row with runs of 58,74,& 91.Day though was also in good touch and he made the most of his chance in the last to get over the line with a break of 92.He now awaits the winner of Judd Trump & Tom Ford in round 2
The day had begun with Ken Doherty,the 1997 champion & grand old man of the tournament at 44, producing the first shock of the week beating Stuart Bingham 10-5. Bingham had lead 5-4 overnight,but after a very scrappy opening frame that could have gone either way,it was Doherty who found some form with breaks of 55 & 60 helping him to a 7-5 lead.Bingham was now all at sea and lost the next to go to the interval 8-4 down. On the resumption of play it was Doherty who again found his scoring boots to win the two he needed with runs of 57 & 60 and record a famous 10-5.
This was amazingly the first match \Ken has won here since 2006 and at this stage of his career he knows every victory on the games biggest stage is to be savoured. He can now sit back and relax for a day or two as he awaits the victor between two players he knows very well John Higgins & Alan Mcmanus.
Two time runner up here Ali Carter also came through a tough test with Xiao Guodong with Carter finally getting the better of the Chinese 10-8 after a titantic struggle this afternoon. Carter had lead this one 5-4 overnight,but it was Xiao who got off to the better start today,winning the opening two frames to lead 6-5. Carter won frame 12 to level it at 6-6 and the next two were also shared to make it 7-7\Carter edged ahead again in the next to make it 8-7 and indeed looked set to make it 9-7 when he knocked in a 59 break in frame 16,but Xiao countered with a 69 of his own to make it 8-8. From here though Carter proved the stronger and finally saw off his stubborn opponent winning the next two to win 10-8
People looking for someone to challenge O'Sullivan's recent dominance of this event have focused on five time ranking winner this season Ding Junhui,but the Chinese didn't have it all his own way in the opening session against Crucible debutant Michael Wasley and was maybe a tad lucky to have to be 3-3 after a decidedly shaky start.From there though he knocked in a wonderful 136 in opening up a 6-3 overnight lead with this one playing to a finish tomorrow afternoon.
Also finishing off in the morning session tomorrow are Joe Perry & Jamie Burnett with a shock very much on the cards here with Burnett holding a 6-3 lead.