THERE’s no greater challenge than playing Rocket Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Crucible – and Shaun Murphy knows he’ll be cast as the underdog on Tuesday night.
The Urmston-based potter earned a trip to the World Snooker Championship quarter-finals after finishing off Marco Fu 13-8 on Monday but, in O’Sullivan, will be facing one of the greatest players of all-time.
Five Masters titles, four UK Championship trophies and another five World Championship triumphs – it all makes grim reading for Murphy.
But 31-year-old Murphy is a former world champion himself and, despite admitting he can’t wait to learn from the master up close at the Crucible, is not waving the white flag just yet.
“It will be a great match whatever happens, Ronnie was a massive favourite to win the tournament before anyone else turned up,” said world no 5 Murphy.
“He’s massive favourite to win my game and I’ve only beaten him once in all the times we’ve played, though we haven’t played that many times.
“It will be a real good opportunity for me just to see where my game’s at as a fellow pro, to learn from him, and watch him in action like we all do.
“He’s a genius and is the man everyone wants to see. I think you definitely have to try and go out there and play the balls, go out and not think about Ronnie O’Sullivan.
“But it’s very, very difficult to when it’s packed arenas and most people support him – he is the biggest draw and the best player of our generation.”
Murphy is a man in form himself, racking up two perfect breaks since the turn of the year as well as winning the World Open in China.
Beating Fu – who is ranked No.7 in the world – was no given and Murphy believes his second-session momentum was the key to wrapping up the victory.
“It was always going to be a very tough game with Marco,” he added. “I think the last time we played here I won with a session to spare but the way he’s been playing recently I knew that wasn’t going to happen sometime.
“I think the damage was done on the first night, I played well and got a good lead.
“(On Monday) I don’t think I played anywhere near as well but that’s the thing about these three-session matches, what you do over the whole length of the day.”
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