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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Ben Parsons

Masters 2023 draw as Neil Robertson begins title defence against Shaun Murphy

The draw for the prestigious 2023 Masters has been made - with defending champion Neil Robertson taking on Shaun Murphy in a standout clash.

Snooker's premier invitational event returns at the Alexandra Palace in January and the first round draw was made, as is tradition, midway through the first session of the UK Championship final in York.

There is seldom a tie that lacks excitement in the tournament, given the world's elite players all make their way to north London for one of the most glamorous events on the snooker calendar. The top 16 in the world will head to the 2,000-capacity venue, that has become the much-loved home of the Triple Crown event in recent years.

And 15 of the 16 players have already been confirmed, while China's Ding Junhui will replace his compatriot Yan Bingtao for the final spot should he defeat Mark Allen in the UK Championship final at the Barbican Centre.

Robertson, the most successful overseas player, secured Masters glory in incredible circumstances in this year's edition of the event. The Australian dramatically overcame Mark Williams in the semi-finals, despite needing two snookers in the final frame.

And he then defeated Barry Hawkins in the final to win his second Masters crown, a decade after his first. Robertson will no doubt be one of the favourites again for the title, alongside the likes of Ronnie O'Sullivan, Judd Trump and 2019 champion Allen.

Seven-time Masters winner O'Sullivan has been drawn against fellow attacking player Luca Brecel in what promises to be a very watchable first round match against the Belgian Bullet.

Defending champion Neil Robertson will take on Shaun Murphy (Colin Poultney/ProSports/REX/Shutterstock)

And O'Sullivan's great rival John Higgins faces UK Championship semi-finalist Jack Lisowski in another enticing encounter. Mark Selby faces 2021 UK Champion Zhao Xintong, while Northern Irishman Allen does battle with 2022 finalist Hawkins.

The atmosphere is set to be electric once again in a theatre that is now highly favoured by snooker's most exciting entertainers.

2023 Masters - first round draw in full:

Top Half:

(1) Neil Robertson vs (12) Shaun Murphy

(8) Kyren Wilson vs (14) Stuart Bingham

(5) Mark Allen vs (13) Barry Hawkins

(4) Judd Trump vs (15) Ryan Day

Bottom Half:

(3) Mark Selby vs (9) Zhao Xintong

(6) John Higgins vs (10) Jack Lisowski

(7) Mark Williams vs Yan/Ding

(2) Ronnie O’Sullivan vs (11) Luca Brecel

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