Murphy out after his ‘worst two days’
Former champion Shaun Murphy bemoaned “the worst two days of my snooker years” after losing 10-4 to Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham in the first round of the World Championship.
Saengkham exploited a series of uncharacteristic errors from Murphy as he built on a 6-3 overnight advantage to become only the third Thai to win a match in Crucible history.
Afterwards, Murphy stressed his performance had not been affected by the recent sudden death of his former manager and mentor Brandon Parker, whose funeral he attended in the Algarve last month.
Murphy, the 2005 world champion, 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’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, who admitted he barely slept on Monday night, showed no sign of nerves as he produced breaks of 53 and 63 to extend his advantage to five frames.
A rare missed red enabled Murphy to reduce the deficit, but further breaks of 60 and 74 either side of the mid-session interval saw Saengkham home.
Saengkham estimated that up to one million people would have watched the match in a country whose appetite for snooker was largely cultivated by the exploits of two-time Crucible semi-finalist James Wattana.
He said: “James taught me everything – how to come here and speak the language. 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 and not think about all those people watching me.”
Mark Selby laboured to a 10-6 win over qualifier Jordan Brown while another qualifier, Martin Gould, fired four centuries en route to establishing a 7-2 lead against ninth seed Stephen Maguire.