Snooker: Murphy's law stumps Davis

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The Independent Online

Shaun Murphy, the champion, completed his journey to the quarter-finals of the World Championship with a 13-7 victory over Steve Davis, the great champion of yesteryear, while Hong Kong's Marco Fu gave Asia a representative in the last eight by beating Stephen Maguire 13-4. In both cases, the die was cast in the opening session.

From 6-1 ahead, Murphy never looked like being caught, even if Davis, the consummate professional, reduced the arrears from 10-3 to 12-7. "Steve doesn't finish off frames like he used to," observed Murphy, who is trying to become the first first-time champion to make a successful defence here.

"As you get older, it's tougher to get off to a good start," said Davis, who reached the final of the UK Championship in December before the mists of autumn again descended on his career. But by doing enough to safeguard his place in the top 16 in the end-of-season rankings, he is, unlike Jimmy White, sure of a return here next year.

Fu's sharply seized 4-0 advantage over Maguire set the scene for a performance that, in its consistency, bore little resemblance to his recent struggles. Maguire looked a potential world champion when he won the 2004 UK title but has had a disappointing season.

Mark Williams, the 2000 and 2003 champion, gained a quarter-final place for the first time in three years with his 13-8 victory over Mark Selby, who eliminated John Higgins in the first round.

Resuming 11-5 ahead after the second session Williams saw his lead reduced to 12-8 before clinching victory. "Three or four months ago, it looked like I'd drop out of the top 32 but now I could be in the top eight. If you'd have asked 100 people then if I'd be in this position now, 99 would have said I'd have no chance," said Williams, who won the China Open last month, his first title since October 2003.

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