Shaun Murphy gained his first victory in three appearances at the Embassy World Championship by completing a 10-5 first-round win over 12th seed Chris Small today.
The 22-year-old held a 5-4 overnight lead and took five of the next six frames to book a meeting with John Higgins or Mark Selby.
Small became the second member of the world’s top 16 to exit the tournament, but it was hardly a surprise for the Scot has failed to win a match all season having been suffering from a severe spinal condition.
Last year he had to withdraw from his opening match after the first session but at least he got through it this time, although breaks of 100, 84, 57 and 55 from Murphy today conspired to inflict yet another defeat.
“It feels fantastic to be through,” said Murphy, who was so close to causing an upset on his last visit to this championship two years ago when he lost on the final black of the final frame to Ken Doherty.
Small, however, was not so certain that he will return to the circuit in the autumn for he was in the depths of despair after this latest loss.
“I felt like picking up the balls off the table, throwing them around the room and snapping my cue at the end of the match,” said the 31-year-old from Edinburgh who won the LG Cup in 2002.
“I’m just glad the season has finished for me now and I don’t know if I will be back. Since the last tournament in China I’ve had only two days of quality practice and I had to have an injection just to get here.
“I’m struggling with confidence and when you keep losing it’s hard to get confidence back. I’m just absolutely gone. I’ve never felt like this in my whole career.
“I’ll be out of the top 32 next season so that would mean extra qualifying matches. It’s been hard enough this season and I don’t know whether it’s worth putting myself through it.”