Fire scare at Crucible fails to halt charge by Murphy

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NOT even a fire scare could stop red-hot title-holder Shaun Murphy from rampaging towards the World Snooker Championship quarter-finals in Sheffield yesterday.

An evacuation of the Crucible Theatre three frames into the second session of his match against Steve Davis failed to halt the momentum the top seed had already built up.

Leading 6-2 overnight, Murphy went on to extend his advantage to 10-3 and, after a brief revival from the six-times former champion, ended his day's work 11-5 up and needing only two more frames in this morning's session to tie up the match having taken the concluding frame.

The afternoon action had been under way for less than an hour when tournament director Mike Ganley entered the arena to suspend play after the fire alarm had sounded in the outer areas of the venue.

Davis had just reduced his deficit to 8-3, and, if anything, the interruption affected him more, for Murphy was straight back into his stride on the resumption after a delay of around 30 minutes.

The defending champion produced some of the devastating potting that carried him to the crown last year.

After opening the stint with a run of 75, the Rotherham-based 23-year-old knocked in a 74 straight after the enforced break and capitalised on a series of errors from Davis.

The disruption caused by the 999 call - it transpired there was no fire and the alarm had been triggered by a heat sensor in a kitchen - was more significant in the adjacent match.

Mark Selby was on a break of 26 when forced to put down his cue, and while he extended the contribution to 52 he still lost the frame to Mark Williams. That put the Welshman on the way to a 3-0 lead, but Selby dug in to end the session trailing 5-3.

Earlier, Scotland's disappointing fortunes in the championship continued when Stephen Maguire made a lacklustre start to his last-16 match against Marco Fu.

The two best known Scottish players, Stephen Hendry and John Higgins, both fell at the opening hurdle in Sheffield and now fourth seed Maguire has his work cut to avoid following them home as he ended his first session 6-2 down.

The 25-year-old's highest break was just 44 and while his victory over Mark King on Monday had been expected to lift his confidence after a poor run, there was no sign of him finding his true form.

Fu, however, performed really well and contributions of 125, 91, 74 and 57 indicated the 28-year-old from Hong Kong is playing well enough to cause an upset if Maguire fails to raise his game.

On the other table, Australia's Neil Robertson showed why many experts are tipping him to become world champion in the near future as he moved to within three frames of a quarter-final spot. Having started the second session with a 6-2 lead over Stephen Lee, the 24-year-old from Melbourne maintained his four-frame advantage in going 10-6 up ahead of last night's conclusion.