SHAUN Murphy will get another Crucible crack at Ronnie O’Sullivan in a Dafabet World Championship quarter-final after beating Hong Kong’s Marco Fu 13-8 on Monday.
The Magician brought his new and improved safety game to the party at the Crucible to help secure a safe passage through to the last eight in Sheffield.
Murphy, the 2005 world champion, was tipped as a possible dark horse for this year’s event after winning the World Open last month, a first ranking title success for three years.
And after a 13-10 last-16 loss to the Rocket three years ago Murphy was looking forward to seeing how he dealt with the challenge of the defending and five-time champion.
Murphy and his coaching team have worked very hard in recent months on his perceived areas of weakness in relation to his main rivals – namely safety, cue ball control and concentration.
And so the 31-year-old Murphy, ranked 5th in the world, was also especially pleased that Fu singled out his safety game as a main factor in his win.
He said: “That is pleasing to hear Marco say that, it is a big strength of his. I have been working very hard on it and I am delighted to see an improvement.
“I do think everything before the one-table semi-finals is an aperitif – but the match against Ronnie O’Sullivan will be a fantastic occasion. He is a massive favourite to win the title, and obviously to beat me.
“I see the match as in his hands, he is the best player on the planet and if we both play our best then he wins. But that does not always happen.
“I see this as a very good chance to see where I am at. I have bad memories of our last meeting at the Crucible in 2011 but you have to just think about your game and not about him. It is easier said than done.”
World No7 Fu, 34, said: “It is the second round of the World Championship and I am up against a player of Shaun Murphy’s class – basically I have to play better than that.
“It was a strange match, neither of us played well tonight and so I am disappointed with my performance. But his safety was excellent, it used to be weakness of his.
“I have improved to last year, and to a few years ago but my consistency is still something I have problems with. Not so much today, but over the season I lose to too many lower-ranked players.
“And I am behind some others with what you need to do well here at the Crucible.”
Photographs by Monique Limbos