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O’Sullivan on top against Murphy

PUBLISHED: 10:46 22 April 2017 | UPDATED: 10:46 22 April 2017

Ronnie O'Sullivan in action at the Betfred World Championships (pic Danny Lawson/PA)

Ronnie O'Sullivan in action at the Betfred World Championships (pic Danny Lawson/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Five-time champion holds three-frame lead at World Championships

Ronnie O’Sullivan is just three frames away from his 18th Betfred World Championship quarter-final, despite a resurgent second-round fightback from Shaun Murphy.

The Romford-based five-time world champion led 9-3 in the best-of-25 encounter at the Crucible, but three half-century breaks ensured the game would go into a final session, where Murphy will begin 10-6 down.

The gap could have been narrower still, only for the 2005 world champion to miss a simple green – just one ball after fluking the yellow in his bid to reduce the arrears.

Resuming 6-2 ahead, O’Sullivan was already in the box seat in Sheffield, though a break of 70 saw his opponent draw first blood to reduce the lead to three.

But the ‘Rocket’ went back to delivering snooker his nickname suggests, scoring 63 and 75 in successive frames as Murphy was left to sit and ponder a six-frame deficit come the mid-session interval.

But a break of 84 showed the world No.5 meant business, finally stopping the rot before breaks of 73 and 87 suggested an improbable comeback could well be on the cards.

The intermittent period saw O’Sullivan score just 14 points – up until what became a dramatic final frame of the session.

With the frame down to the colours, it looked as though Lady Luck would be smiling on Murphy as the yellow rolled along the cushion and in, after he had initially missed the pot, a fluke almost identical to one he made in the first round.

But, then missing what proved to be a vital green, he was left to pay as O’Sullivan cleared up the remaining colours to end the session with the last frame, vital in both scoreline and momentum.

That gives snooker’s best-known player, who last lifted the trophy in 2013, a 10-6 lead as opposed to the 9-7 scoreline that should have come from Murphy.

The winner of this tie goes on to face either Liang Wenbo or Ding Jinhui in the last-eight, with the latter 9-7 up with just one session remaining.

Romford-based Liang looked to be on excellent form as he closed the gap from four to two, with breaks of 84, 75, 131 and 79, leaving his Chinese compatriot plenty to ponder.

But Ding responded in the way that took him to the final last year, thanks to breaks of 91 and 94, keeping a nose ahead going into Saturday’s final nine frames.

*Watch the Snooker World Championship Live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player, with Colin Murray and analysis from Jimmy White and Neal Foulds

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