Last-16 belters at snooker world championship

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 Last-16 belters at snooker world championship

Today sees a grand line-up at the snooker world championship, with the last-16 matches featuring Mark Selby against Stephen Hendry and Shaun Murphy taking on Ding Junhui.

Mark Selby is the reigning Masters champion, and made light work of Ken Doherty in the first round, beating the Irishman 10-4. Selby is a dark-horse for this tournament, and played extremely well to dispatch the 1997 world champion.

“Ken's a former winner so he's been there and done it. I knew he wasn't going to come out and freeze and I would have to be on top of my game otherwise I'd be going home,” said Selby.

The Jester from Leicester reached the final here at The Crucible back in 2007, and he feels he has another chance of trying to make it all the way.

“I've proved it in the past that I've got the game to win it but it's very difficult to do over a two week period, it's a matter of trying to stay fresh and put in as much hard work as you can.

“I did an interview back home before I came away and I could possibly play a former World Champion in every single round if I went on to win it, so quite an easy draw really. It's going to be a tough game against Stephen, and the round after that, you expect that when you're playing the best players in the world,” added Selby.

Selby’s opponent is the seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry, who by contrast had a much tougher first round to negotiate.

Hendry found himself on the verge of losing to 18-year-old Chinese debutant Zhang Anda, and somehow found something within him from 9-7 down to win 10-9.

“At 9-7 down something clicked, I don’t know where it came from but if I could produce that form more often I would be competing for titles, instead of producing it in two and three frame spurts,” Hendry said.

At that point in the match, Hendry even considered about retirement, and put an end to his miserable performances throughout the season.

“I had my retirement speech ready for the press. I just felt that this sums it all up, at the end of a poor season, losing in the first round at The Crucible.

“I definitely would have thought about retiring during the summer if I'd have lost this match. It's been a poor season. I'm just struggling on and it's just frustrating not producing good snooker,” said Hendry.

If there is one place where Hendry can find some form, then it is at The Crucible, a place where he is always welcome. He does have a difficult match on his hands against one of the potential players who can go on and be world champion. This is a last-16 tie you do not want to take your eyes off.

In the other last-16 tie, there is also a great match in prospect. The reigning UK champion Ding Junhui takes on 2005 world champion Shaun Murphy.

Ding cruised into this round with a resounding 10-1 win over Stuart Pettman. Ding had no trouble from Pettman and he barely had to get out of first gear.

“It was a lot easier than I expected against Stuart. He missed a lot and left me simple chances. It was playing like I do in practice. He looked like he had given up in the final session after I won the first one to go 9-1,” said Ding.

He is excited about playing Murphy, and he knows it will be a different match to the previous one. “I am looking forward to my next match, and hope to play better than I did in this one. Playing Shaun Murphy I’ll have to concentrate hard to beat him. People say I have a great chance this year, but I’m not feeling any extra pressure – not today, anyway,” Ding added.

Murphy won at The Crucible in 2005 and was 2008 UK champion, so he has the game for the longer sessions of snooker. In his first round match, Murphy was 8-1 in front, but Greene came back in the next session to make the score 9-7. Murphy eventually crossed the line to win 10-7, but Murphy always knew he was in control.

“At no time did I feel that I was going to lose the match, the gremlins in my head were not that bad. But it would have been so nice to have won the match 10-1, by going out there and just doing the job. But to be fair to Gerard, he did not allow me to do that,” said Murphy.

Like Ding, The Magician is looking forward to this last-16 encounter. “I think my game against Ding Junhui is the tie of the round. Ding is the best player in the world at the moment, his results prove that. He has been prominent in all the major events this term and he will go into our match as the favourite I'm sure. But that doesn't trouble me because I've beaten favourites before.

“I'm sure it will be a fantastic match, no matter who wins. He is playing great and will have millions of people supporting him back home in China,” Murphy said.

Both of these matches start Super Sunday at Sheffield at 2pm.



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