Snooker: Murphy eyes up second Crucible crown

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Shaun Murphy insists he is in the best possible shape to claim his second world championship title after he motored through to the second round at the Crucible.

The former Rotherham potter had a couple of scares en route but ended up a comfortable 10-5 victor against Martin Gould on Sunday, the World No 5 finishing off with a flourish with breaks of 106 and 95 sealing victory.

Back in 2005 Murphy, a rank outsider and a qualifier for the tournament, stormed to the Crucible crown to shock the snooker world.

Since then a semi-final in 2007 is his best performance but ahead of a second-round clash against either Graeme Dott or Peter Ebdon, Murphy has fired a warning shot to his rivals.

“I have put more effort into preparing for the worlds this year than I ever have before,” said Murphy who finished runner up at the UK Championships this season.

“I’m in the best shape that I have ever been in, I have been practicing really hard and I feel good.

“There were a couple of key frames, as there always are in these long matches, but the third frame on Saturday was vital.

“I was 2-0 down and needed a snooker but I got it, you always settle down with your first frame under your belt and I’m pleased with how I played from then on.

“It’s nice to see your hard work paying off and to produce my best snooker at the end there when I needed it is very pleasing.”

Much of the pre-tournament hype has focused on the return of defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan to the sport.

The four-time champion, who had not played a competitive match since September, also made serene progress through to the second round after seeing off Marcus Campbell 10-4.

But while the bookies might have the Rocket already installed as the favourite Murphy insists that there are plenty of other names capable of getting their name engraved on that famous trophy.

“When I won I came as a qualifier, won two matches and then went on and won the tournament so I can do it then anyone can,” he added.

“The strength in depth on tour now is fantastic, there have been so many different winners on tour this year and anyone who has made the last 16 here is capable of winning the whole thing.

“I just have to focus on my own game rather than looking at the draw or anything like that and then I should be alright.”

*British Eurosport is the Home of Snooker, showing 19 tournaments this season including the World Championship, UK Championship, the Masters and all ranking events, available on Sky, Virgin Media & BT or online/on mobile via eurosportplayer.co.uk