17 february 2021 publish date

Murphy began defending the title. R1 Welsh Open 2021

Defending BetVictor Welsh Open champion Shaun Murphy began his campaign at this year’s event with a 4-1 defeat of Zak Surety at the Celtic Manor Resort.

The Magician lifted the Ray Reardon Trophy 12 months ago with a stunning 9-1 defeat of Kyren Wilson in the final.

He’ll require another strong showing this week if he is to qualify for the upcoming Cazoo Players Championship. Murphy currently lies in 20th position on the one-year list and needs to force his way into the top 16 to gain a place.

Murphy made breaks of 63, 107 and 119 on his way to today’s win and will faceStuart Carrington in the last 64.

“It’s very pleasing. I’ve put a lot of work in since my last outing. There have been times this season where I have been really struggling,” said Triple Crown winner Murphy.

“I’ve spoke at length about the difference in restrictions with living in the Republic of Ireland. It has affected my ability to prepare for tournaments. I’ve done as much as I can for this week, as the last thing you want to do is turn up as defending champion and go out in the first round.

“I’ve played myself into a hole this season. I’m chasing points for the Players Championship now. It is last chance saloon for that. It’s one down and a few more to go.”

Mark Selby missed out on a golden opportunity for a 147 in his 4-1 defeat of Barry Pinches. The three-time World Champion compiled a supreme run of 134, before missing a routine pink to end the break.

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Selby remains in a strong position in the fight for the £150,000 BetVictor Series bonus, which goes to the player who accumulates the most prize money over the six events.

He lies in second place behind Judd Trump, after winning the BetVictor European Masters and being runner-up at the recent BetVictor Shoot Out. Just two events remain in the series, with the BetVictor Gibraltar Open to follow.

Selby said: “Making a 147 in any tournament is one of the biggest buzzes you can get in snooker. I’ve managed to do it once or twice before. It would have been nice to do it again there, but it wasn’t to be. There are a lot worse things going on in the world than me missing the pink.”

World number one Trump booked his place in the second round with a 4-2 win over China’s Zhao Jianbo. The Ace in the Pack made breaks of 117, 67, 90 and 51 on his way to victory. He faces Si Jiahui in the second round.

Scotland’s five-time Welsh Open winner John Higgins got underway with a 4-1 defeat of Steven Hallworth, while fellow Scot Stephen Maguire saw off Welshman Dominic Dale 4-1.

Ukrainian Iulian Boiko met with Chinese Xiao Guodong in the first round of the Welsh Open 2021. Having gained experience in training sparring with Xiao at Ding Junhui Snooker Academy in the first half of the season, Iulian played confidently starting the series but making mistakes, having a chance to win each of the first three frames played. A more experienced player from China, Xiao chatted for the mistakes of the world's youngest professional snooker player and each time used the opportunity left by Iulian. Having made the third series of 50+ in the match in the fourth frame, Guodong won 4:0 and will play in the next round of the competition with Garry Wilson. Despite the defeats, with each match in the World Snooker Tour, Iulian adds confidence and gains invaluable experience of playing with professional players, which will later help the 15-year-old to reach his dream victory. You can watch the full video of Iulian's match with Xiao on our YouTube channel:

The surprise of the first round was the defeat of former world champion Stuart Bingham. In the opening match, Stuart entered the game too late with breaks of 124 and 50, when he had already lost 0:3 to Robert Milkins. In the sixth frame, "The Milkman" with a series of 69 points won a remarkable 2:4 victory with over one of the favorites of the competition "Ball-Run" Bingham.

In the Welsh derby between three-time world champion Mark Williams and Michael White, experience won. Demonstrating not the best form, Williams was able to win over his countryman 4:1 and go on to the "home" tournament.

The reigning world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan with a series of 56, 122, 66 and 73 did not leave any chance to Robbie Williams and defeated him 4:0. In the second round we will have a match of snooker legends, because "The Rocket" Ronnie will play with his friend "The Whirlwind" Jimmy White, who passed the first round without a game, due to the withdrawal of Mark Joyce.

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The article is based on WST.TV