• World Snooker Championship

Ronnie builds big lead on Ebdon but Murphy goes out

ESPN staff
April 23, 2012
Peter Ebdon and Ronnie O'Sullivan study the table © Getty Images

Ronnie O'Sullivan is well on course for a place in the last 16 of the World Snooker Championship after opening up a 7-2 lead over Peter Ebdon in the first session of their first round match on Monday.

O'Sullivan, a three-time champion at The Crucible, moved to within three frames of victory over 2002 world champion Ebdon in a game that was much more evenly matched than the scoreline would suggest, with O'Sullivan having accumulated 573 points in the session to Ebdon's 417.

After claiming the opening frame, a sloppy passage of play in the second enabled Ebdon to immediately restore parity. From there he would lose six on the spin, however - as O'Sullivan showcased a range of great pots and pinpoint safety play to continually frustrate an opponent he has not always seen eye-to-eye with.

The best from the maverick shotmaker came in the third set, as he picked up the only century break of the contest so far, forgoing the final black but still recording a break of 103. His seventh frame victory was gained in an entirely different matter, using snookers to wrest his way back into the stanza before clearing from the brown to steal matters on the black.

Ebdon saved his best until last, however, compiling a 90 break to claim one frame back and give him at least a glimmer of hope when they return on Tuesday.

The other contest on at the same time was equally entertaining and far more competitive, as another former champion in Sheffield, Shaun Murphy, was surprisingly dumped out by Jamie Jones - who held his nerve to take a 10-8 triumph.

Having been 5-4 down overnight, Jones moved into a 9-7 lead but wasted a couple of half-chances to clinch victory in the 18th frame. He need not have worried, however, as he kept his composure in the very next frame to put Murphy out in the first round.

"It's certainly not how I saw the tournament going," Murphy said afterwards. "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."

Elsewhere, teenage Belgian Luca Brecel was overcome by Stephen Maguire 10-5 on his Crucible debut, after becoming the youngest competitor ever at the Sheffield venue.

Having put in a century break on Sunday in an impressive display, the 17-year-old resumed at 6-3 down on Monday and got off to a promising start by racking up a break of 86 to move within two frames of his more experienced opponent.

However, Maguire moved 9-4 clear thanks to breaks of 101 and 94, and after Brecel took the 14th frame the Scot wrapped up victory. He will now face either Graeme Dott or Joe Perry in the second round - but there was some good news for Brecel, who was subsequently handed a two-year tour card to help nurture his potential.

Matthew Stevens defeated Marco Fu 10-3 to move into the next round, thanks mainly to a 8-1 domination of the opening session.

Breaks of 67 and 81 helped Stevens to take advantage of a below-par Fu, with the Welshman able to afford a couple of mis-steps as he returned in the evening to finish off the job.

That left one match with undivided attention in the evening session - as Andrew Higginson built a 5-4 lead on Stephen Lee ahead of the second part of their battle.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.