IF Sunday night’s 19th-frame thriller was a match for the ages, Shaun Murphy admits he was left feeling like an old man after scraping victory in the first round of the World Snooker Championship.
Urmston-based Murphy was given a run for his money against qualifier Jamie Cope in his first outing at the Crucible, with his opponent making his first World Championship appearance in three years.
The world No.5 trailed 5-4 after Saturday’s first session and the tit-for-tat clash followed suit a day later on Sunday after Cope pegged back Murphy’s mini-revival to 9-9.
And it seemed like disaster for Murphy when he potted the white in the final frame, but he was handed another visit to the table – and did not make the same mistake twice.
But Murphy, who won the world title in 2005, insists he was just relieved to still be in the reckoning for another tilt after his own share of narrow losses in previous tournaments.
“If that’s what this tournament has got in store for me for the next 17 days, I want to go home. I feel like I’ve got the nerves of a 75-year-old and I’m only 31,” he said.
“All I can say is I’m just glad I’ve got one of these in the locker because it’s so hard out there, so difficult. That first round is like a blood bath.
“I came here really well prepared a few years ago and ran into Jamie Jones, who played out of his skin and went on to get to the quarters.
“I’ve lost my fair share of deciding frames in this venue, it doesn’t get any easier and that match had the smell of a 10-9 from early on.
“There was all sorts of errors, me not rolling up to the black in the penultimate frame was like schoolboy error No.25. In the end I’m just pleased to get over the line.”
Murphy will now face either Marco Fu or Martin Gould in the second round on Sunday – and he concedes not even he knows how the rest of his tournament will pan out.
“It’s completely impossible to know,” he added. “I’ve paid for the hotel in Sheffield, I’ve paid my entry fee, I want to come here and get my full value.
“I’ve tried my best and never been guilty of giving 100 per cent, I’ve done so over the last two days and I’m thrilled to get to the second round.”
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