Snooker: Murphy keeps cool to inflict defeat on exasperated Higgins

Shaun Murphy yesterday sealed the biggest shock of this year's World Championship with a superb 13-8 second-round win over John Higgins, the 1998 champion and third-favourite for this year's title.

Shaun Murphy yesterday sealed the biggest shock of this year's World Championship with a superb 13-8 second-round win over John Higgins, the 1998 champion and third-favourite for this year's title.

The qualifier from Rotherham, who started the day with a 9-7 overnight lead, was composure personified even as Higgins took the first frame to reduce the deficit. Though Higgins was never at his best, and at one point uncharacteristically slammed his cue on the ground in frustration, Murphy played the match of his life to take the next four frames.

The 22-year-old's attitude was exemplified by the cool break of 115 that won the final frame. But the world No 48 has long been touted as a name to watch. He became snooker's youngest-ever professional in 1998, when still aged 15, and his promise was acknowledged again in 2001 when he won the game's Newcomer of the Year award. Turning potential into prizes has taken a little longer, but yesterday's win signalled his arrival as a force on the biggest stage.

Murphy now faces a quarter-final against Steve Davis, the former six-times world champion who also happens to be his hero. "Steve was my idol when I was younger," Murphy said. "It'll be a tough match but I'm looking forward to it." Asked how far he believes he can go in this event, he added: "All the way."

Matthew Stevens joined Murphy in the last eight by completing a comfortable 13-5 win over Jimmy White, who had trailed 12-4 overnight and took the first frame yesterday with a break of 68. But Stevens then went one better, with a break of 69 in the next, to secure the win.

Stevens now faces Stephen Hendry. Anticipating his meeting with the seven-times champion, Lee said: "I've been keeping fresh by getting to bed early."

White, who has been runner-up six times but never lifted the trophy, said: "I thought I had a chance this year, I genuinely felt I could win the tournament."

In the other second-round matches yesterday, Peter Ebdon and Stephen Lee entered last night's final session of their match at 8-8, while Mark Williams started the evening's play against Ian McCulloch trailing 7-9.

Williams lost six of eight frames in a morning session that changed course in the third frame because of his exemplary sportsmanship.

Leading 6-4 in the match, and among the reds, he called a foul against himself for brushing his thumb - imperceptibly to anyone else, including the referee and television cameras - against a red. McCulloch cleared up for 6-5 and, immeasurably boosted, dominated the morning.

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