Shaun Murphy, the 2005 world champion, is confident he can overcome Ronnie O'Sullivan in their eagerly-anticipated last-16 showdown here at the World Championship.
Murphy has been critical of O'Sullivan after he threatened to withdraw from snooker's biggest tournament before a ball had even been potted. And the world No 6, also a Crucible runner-up two years ago, is adamant the days have gone when one player dominates the green baize, even someone as gifted as O'Sullivan. "He doesn't scare me, not at all," said Murphy. "Gone are the days when I would be intimidated by any of the players. I have earned my stripes in the sport.
"I have earned my place among the best. I may not have won as many tournaments as someone like O'Sullivan, but I have won big ones."
Murphy and O'Sullivan begin their best-of-25 frame match this afternoon and will play a maximum of eight frames, before a further eight frames tomorrow. On Monday night the pair will resume and play to a finish with a quarter-final place at stake against John Higgins, the triple world champion, or Rory McLeod, a qualifier from Wellingborough.
"I don't think any of the players fell for Ronnie's 'I'm not coming' comments before this Championship," added Murphy. "There have been a few times this season when he has kept us guessing. Some players were surprised he turned up at the China Open last month after missing other tournaments abroad. But nobody misses the World Championship.
"Snooker is a test of all your skills on and off the table, and Ronnie uses his abilities to test opponents, and he started early this year. He looked in very good shape [in his first round victory over Dominic Dale] for someone who didn't want to play, and he's won this [title] three times. He couldn't be more dangerous. He's a genius, a fantastic player and one of the best. I'll have my work cut out."
And despite talk from the O'Sullivan that he's struggling badly for form, Murphy is wise enough to realise that anyone underestimating him will do so at their peril.
Murphy stressed: "I don't know anyone in this tournament that will take O'Sullivan lightly, because despite everything this season you never know what you're going to get."
Judd Trump, snooker's rising star, took a big step towards securing his quarter-final place having built a commanding 11-5 lead over Martin Gould, the Pinner-based professional, with one session left to play of their second round match. Ahead 5-3 overnight, Trump made two breaks of 51 and further scores of 108, 69, 84 and 67 to dominate and leave himself needing just two frames to progress.
Graeme Dott, last year's Crucible runner-up, led Ali Carter, the 2008 finalist, 5-3 after the first session of their second-round tie. Carter led 3-1 with breaks of 45, 44 and 79, but Dott responded with a break of 111 in a winning run of four straight frames.Reuse content