Shaun Murphy’s recent golden run was brought to a shuddering halt as he slipped to a 4-3 defeat to world No. 111 James Cahill in the last 64 of the WST Classic in Leicester.
Murphy is guaranteed to be part of the elite eight-man Tour Championship at the end of the month in Hull (March 27-April 2), but could not maintain his winning touch on Monday at the Morningside Arena.
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After pinching the match on the final black, Cahill said: “To be honest, I think he deserved to win. He is playing a lot better than me. I’ve just been lucky to nick it on the black.
“I felt like I was playing an alien game out there, but just kept potting my way over the line.
“I’ve not played a great deal, I’ve had a lot of first-round exits, so it has not been a great season for me at all. I started playing three weeks before this tournament.
“I’ve got to improve a lot from that game. Shaun has let me off a few times in the final frame by missing a couple.”
The Blackpool potter will meet Anthony Hamilton in the last 32 after he despatched former Turkish Masters finalist Matthew Selt 4-3 having trailed 2-0 with Selt contributing 109 in the second frame.
Breaks of 91, 81 and a closing 94 were good enough for the former German Masters winner Hamilton to progress.
Six Red world finalist Thepchaiya Un-Nooh produced the fourth 147 break of his career in the fifth frame against Xu Si, but could not prevent a 4-2 defeat to the former Indian Open semi-finalist.
Xu rolled in 94 and 92 before finalising the win with a 69 in the sixth frame.
He faces Carter for a last-16 spot after ‘The Captain’ flew high in a 4-0 whitewash of Muhammad Asif with breaks of 73 and 68 helping him ease through.
Mark Allen will head to the Tour Championship as top seed after winning the Northern Ireland Open, UK Championship and World Grand Prix so far this season, but needed all seven frames to fend off Mark Davis.
Allen eased 3-0 clear only for the Hastings professional to restore parity at 3-3 boosted by 55 and 102. Despite losing the momentum, it was Allen who held on to advance to the last 32.
The Antrim man will next meet Noppon Saengkham after the Thai player’s 4-3 win over former European Masters winner Fan Zhengyi.
Four-time world champion John Higgins was a 4-1 winner against Mark Joyce, that included a 102 knock in the fourth frame, while 2020 Crucible finalist Kyren Wison overpowered Stuart Carrington 4-0 to reach the last 32.
Higgins meets Jamie Clarke on Tuesday with Wilson taking on Tian Pengfei, who recovered from trailing Shoot Out winner Chris Wakelin 3-0 to complete a 4-3 triumph.
Mark Selby boosted his hopes of securing his place at the Tour Championship with a 4-3 win over Zhang Anda. Breaks of 80, 58, 55 and 66 ensured Selby a last-32 meeting with amateur Daniel Wells, who drubbed Stephen Maguire 4-1.
If Selby overcomes Wells, he will join Allen, Murphy, Carter, Wilson, Ryan Day and Milkins in the Tour starting line-up.
Only Gary Wilson or Judd Trump can overhaul Selby or Ding Junhui in the race to Hull. Wilson needs a run to the last four while Trump must reach the final.
Latest Tour Championship qualifiers
(players in bold still competing at WST Classic)
Latest WST Classic results
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