Snooker: Murphy handed tough TV test

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The Independent Online

Shaun Murphy will face a Crucible legend in the first round of the Embassy World Championship next month.

The 19-year-old, who won five matches to qualify for the televised stage of the £1.6m event, meets the seven-times champion Stephen Hendry in the pick of the first-round matches, beginning on 20 April.

Murphy, the lowest world-ranked qualifier this year at 169, led Hendry 4-1 in their previous encounter in the final 16 of last year's Wembley Masters but was beaten 6-4.

He was playing in the qualifiers for the Regal Scottish Open when the draw was made by another former champion, Steve Davis, at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

John Parrott, the 1991 champion, faces a stern challenge in the form of Mark Williams, the current world No 1 and the winner of the championship two years ago.

Parrott, 37, battled back from 9-7 down to edge past Shokat Ali 10-9 in the qualifiers earlier this month and was unhappy at the prospect of facing Williams.

"I am a little sick after working so hard to qualify," Parrott said. "I just wanted to avoid one of the top four."

Reigning champion Ronnie O'Sullivan begins his title defence against the Scottish world No 18 Drew Henry.

John Higgins, the 1998 winner, who won this season's first three titles and triumphed at the Irish Masters at the weekend, will play Thailand's James Wattana, a semi-finalist in 1993 and 1997.

Ken Doherty, the 1997 champion, tackles Stuart Bingham, who ousted Hendry 10-7 in a shock first-round result in 2000. Six-times runner-up Jimmy White will face the Welshman Dominic Dale.

There are four Crucible debutants this year, including Murphy. Robin Hull will become the first player from Finland to compete in the televised stage when he meets the world No 14 Graeme Dott.

Redcar's Mike Dunn will play Matthew Stevens, the runner-up two years ago, and Robert Milkins faces the Dubliner Fergal O'Brien.

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