World Snooker Championship 2020: Noppon Saengkham beats Shaun Murphy, Mark Selby through



‘He’s not going to get that’ – Noppon Saengkham sinks three sensational shots
Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 31 July-16 August
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four and Red Button, with uninterrupted coverage on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app. Full details and times.

Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham caused the biggest upset of the World Championship so far by beating 2005 winner Shaun Murphy 10-4 in the first round.

World number 42 Saengkham led 6-3 overnight and won the first two frames on Tuesday before Murphy responded.

Saengkham, 28, took four of the next five to record his maiden victory at the Crucible in his second appearance.

He will face Mark Selby in the second round after the three-time champion’s 10-6 win over debutant Jordan Brown.

Former world number one Selby held a slender 5-4 lead over Northern Ireland’s Brown heading into the second session, but progressed comfortably despite admitting some lapses in focus.

Since winning the last of his three world titles in 2017, his record in Sheffield has been poor, having failed to progress past the second round in the past two years.

He told BBC Two: “I am happy to win. The first round is always the toughest and you are always edgy no matter who you are playing.

“It could have been better but I felt in patches I was close to playing really well. When I looked like I was going to kick on, I missed a silly ball and lost concentration.

“It was difficult out there to concentrate. There were two or three frames where I was fully focused and then I would lose it again.”

Mark Allen made breaks of 136 and 105 in the first two frames before Crucible debutant Jamie Clarke responded with a century of his own in a high-quality match, which Allen led 5-4 at the end of the session.

World number 60 Martin Gould produced a superb showing with four centuries to open up a commanding 7-2 lead over Scotland’s Stephen Maguire, who reached the quarter-finals last year.

They play to a conclusion on Wednesday at 19:00 BST.

‘Worst two days of my snooker years’

Murphy said his performance had not been affected by the sudden death of his former manager and mentor Brandon Parker, whose funeral he attended in Portugal last month.

Murphy told BBC Sport: “I was very much below par across the whole match – probably the worst two days of my snooker years came together at the worst possible time.

“My form has been good this season with two titles and other finals, so this was a shock to me.

“And I can say that the build-up to the tournament had no impact. I came here wanting to honour Brandon Parker’s memory.

“You dream of winning the title and dedicating it to him and things like that. But I would never dishonour him by saying that has caused me a problem.”

Saengkham estimated up to one million people will have watched the match in a country whose appetite for snooker owes much to former world number three and two-time Crucible semi-finalist James Wattana.

“James taught me everything – how to come here and speak the language,” said Saengkham. “He taught me how to get through because for an Asian player to come to the UK is difficult.

“I felt a lot of pressure but I just tried to concentrate on the table and not think about all those people watching me.

“For the past three or four days, I have turned my phone off and not done anything on the internet. If I turn my phone back on, it will be too much pressure with all the messages.”

Analysis

Six-time world champion Steve Davis: “Noppon played so well, and was knocking in a lot of balls very confidently, but it could have been a completely different match with Shaun 1-0 up when he missed a ridiculously easy red in the second frame. Things went weird for him from there and it started to look like he wasn’t concentrating fully.”

Seven-time world Stephen Hendry: “Noppon’s clearance to win the match was stunning. We’ve seen top players go 9-4 up and all of a sudden get scared of the winning line. He looked so composed and he’s beaten one of the best players of the season 6-3 and 4-1 in two sessions which is very impressive.”

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