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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Pa Sport Staff

Si Jiahui holds nerve to take last-frame shootout against Shaun Murphy

PA Wire

Si Jiahui held his nerve in a seesawing final-frame shootout to clinch another famous upset victory over Shaun Murphy and a spot in the second round of the World Snooker Championship.

Murphy was fancied at the Crucible this year after triumphing at both the Players Championship and Tour Championship but slipped 9-6 behind to the world number 80, the lowest ranked player in the tournament.

The 2005 champion peeled off three frames in a row to set up a decider, where Si hit the front with a break of 56 and while an attempted split of the reds went awry, the 20-year-old Chinese stayed focused.

Even though Murphy gave himself a chance with a superb long pot, cannoning off another red, he ran out of position and soon afterwards gave away three fouls attempting to get out of an awkward snooker.

Si duly closed out a 10-9 win – his second over Murphy, who caused controversy when he said after his first defeat to the then-amateur at the 2021 UK Championship that he “lost to someone who shouldn’t even be in the building”.

Murphy has admitted in the build-up to this encounter he regretted his actions then and there was no frostiness at the conclusion of the match with a polite handshake as Si pumped his fist to the crowd.

As Murphy faces up to a second successive first-round defeat in Sheffield and third in four years, Si can now look forward to an encounter with Robert Milkins, who was also taken to the last frame as he produced a memorable comeback to beat Joe Perry 10-9 in their rearranged contest.

The pair’s match was interrupted earlier this week when a man wearing a ‘Just Stop Oil’ T-shirt jumped on to table one and tipped orange powder over the cloth.

The crowd from Monday night’s match were given free tickets by event organisers for Thursday’s unscheduled morning session at the Crucible, and they watched Milkins defy the odds to reach the last 16.

Perry started the morning session which began at 09:30 – the earliest start to a World Championship match – with a 7-2 lead in the best-of-19 encounter.

However, Milkins, who won the Welsh Open in February, took the opening two frames of the session to move to within three frames of his opponent.

Perry responded by winning the next frame only for Milkins to hit back immediately by again moving to within three frames, and then reducing Perry’s lead to two after the former semi-finalist missed a simple brown.

An out-of-sorts Perry then fluffed his lines when potting a red to the middle pocket with a relentless Milkins making no mistake to move to one behind, and then drawing level to set up a three-frame shootout.

Milkins clinched the next frame to put him on the brink of glory before Perry scrambled to produce a clearance of 63 and take the match to a decider.

But it was Milkins who held his nerve to secure the final frame and seal a memorable fightback. He will face Shaun Murphy or Si Jiahui in the next round.

Mark Selby saw off a determined challenge from qualifier Matthew Selt as the four-time champion started his bid for a fifth crown with a hard-fought 10-8 victory.

Selby led 6-3 overnight before moving 8-4 ahead on Thursday afternoon but Selt refused to shrink away in a battle that became increasingly attritional to narrow the deficit to 9-8.

But Selby, winner of this event in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2021, reeled off a 112 break to close out the win and set up a clash with Gary Wilson in the next round.

Elsewhere, three-time champion Mark Williams and qualifier Luca Brecel were all square at 4-4 after the first session of their second-round encounter, while Mark Allen holds a 5-3 lead over Stuart Bingham.

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