Murphy tips Si to become China's first world champion as Crucible form guide is ripped up

Si Jiahui is destined to become China’s first world snooker champion, according to 2005 Crucible winner Shaun Murphy.

World No. 4 Murphy lost 10-9 to the attacking 20-year-old talent in a major upset in the first round of the World Championship on Thursday night as Si proved that form counts for little at the sport’s biggest tournament.

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Murphy was also edged out 6-5 by Si in the first round of the 2021 UK Championship when the world No. 80 was an amateur. He was later forced to apologise after saying amateurs should not be competing on the main professional circuit.

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The 11-time ranking event winner has revised his analysis just over a year later after levelling the Crucible encounter at 9-9 from 9-6 behind only to lose a tense decider with Si contributing a telling 56 in the final frame.

“He was fabulous from start to finish. I think he will be the first Chinese World Champion – maybe not this time, but I believe he will be the first,” said Murphy, who compiled breaks of 131, 120, 102, 92, 72 and 66 in defeat.

“I see things in him that some of the other players don’t have. He’s got a bit of swagger, he’s very talented, plays right and left handed, gets on with it and always tries to attack.

“I threw everything at him, I tried my absolute best and I still lost.”

While Si progresses to a last-16 meeting with Welsh Open champion Robert Milkins, Murphy is the latest pre-tournament form horse to exit the game’s most coveted competition at the first hurdle.

From the major events staged this year, Masters champion Judd Trump, German Masters winner Ali Carter, Six Red world champion DIng Junhui and Players and Tour champion Murphy are all out.

Murphy also lost to Milkins in the Welsh Open final with Carter defeated by Murphy in the Players Championship final.

It sums up the pre-tournament predictions of world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who was adamant form was not key at the Crucible.

“You can’t really look too much into form when it comes to the World Championship,” he told Eurosport. “It is a different tournament altogether.”

European Masters quarter-finalist Si admits he is playing without pressure on his Crucible debut.

“I would not be too dissatisfied with myself even if I’d lost tonight because I did perform well and I was so happy out there,” he said.

“Shaun has had a brilliant season so I never thought I could have done this.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the match. The whole arena applauded every time I got a long pot, and they did the same for my good safeties.

“That’s the best part I’ve enjoyed so far and I was able to play without any pressure. If I can really perform I can compete with any player. I’m playing with a great mindset because I’m not bothered about winning or losing.

“There will be no regrets if I can carry on with my own game.”

Hilarious moment as confused Joe Perry is introduced as opponent Robert Milkins

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