Chinese upset for Sheffield snooker star Joel Walker

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Sheffield potter Joel Walker crashed out of the International Championship at the first hurdle.

World No 111 Walker won a tough qualifying match to make sure of his participation at the latest major ranking tournament in Chengdu, China. But despite a brave comeback the 20-year-old slipped to a 6-4 defeat to Martin Gould as he missed out on a second round showdown with former World Open winner Mark Allen.

Walker won a scrappy opening frame to lead world No 26 Gould in their first round clash at this week’s £625,000 tournament

However, former Player Tour Championship runner-up Gould raised his game and raced into a commanding 4-1 lead thanks to breaks of 107 and 40.

Walker dug deep and won three frames in a row to level the match. Breaks of 105, 55 and 52 did the damage as last season’s Welsh Open quarter-finalist showed glimpses of how he’d managed to secure is qualification for such a big event.

But the final two frames were scrappy and it was Gould who pinched both of them to set up a clash with Ulsterman Allen today (Tuesday).

It proved to be a good day at the office for former Rotherham potter Shaun Murphy as he cruised into the second round.

Murphy, the 2005 world champion, crushed Chinese cueman Yu De Lu 6-1 in their first round opener.

Breaks of 98, 70 and 71 saw Murphy, the world No 7, power into a healthy 4-0 interval lead.

De Lu replied with a run of 61 to win the first frame following the resumption, but Murphy added further breaks of 39, 61 and 48 to secure his safe passage into the next round.

The 32-year-old takes on either Barry Pinches or Robert Milkins for a place in the last 16 stage.

There have been plenty of shocks so far at this year’s eight-day event, one where the eventual winner will walk away with a £100,000 first prize on Sunday evening.

Four-time world champion John Higgins was shocked 6-1 by Chinese player Li Hang, while former UK champion Stephen Maguire lost 6-5 in a dramatic black ball finish to his first round tie.

Crowd favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan had to fight back from 3-1 down to beat Ben Woollaston 6-4 and maintain his interest in the tournament.