Shaun Murphy wary of banana skins and ‘nuclear bomb’ in World Championship qualifying

Shaun Murphy is expecting the toughest Crucible draw (Picture: Getty Images)

16 qualifiers will make it to The Crucible over two days this week and Shaun Murphy is expecting some ‘terrible banana skins’ and a ‘nuclear bomb’ to be among them.

The field in qualifying looks to be as strong as it has ever been, with a string of players that the top 16 would rather avoid when the first round draw is made on Thursday morning.

None are known yet, with the 16 qualifiers decided over two dramatic Judgement Days on Tuesday and Wednesday in Sheffield, but some are heavily fancied, including former world champion Neil Robertson.

The Australian may have had a disappointing season, which has seen him drop down the rankings, but no one is questioning his quality and that he is a genuine contender to win the World Championship if he finds form in time.

After two years of very tricky first round ties, Murphy is convinced the Thunder from Down Under will come through qualifying and be shaking hands with him ahead of a last 32 clash.

‘There’s some terrible banana skins in the draw when it comes round,’ Murphy told Metro. ‘Neil Robertson! What type of grenade is that? It’s not a banana skin it’s like a nuclear bomb!

‘If Neil qualifies, which he should, I’ve already accepted that Neil and I will draw each other. Two years ago I got the toughest first round draw when Stephen Maguire was in the qualifiers.

2023 World Snooker Shanghai Masters - Day 6

Neil Robertson still has to beat Jamie Jones in the last round of qualifying (Picture: Getty Images)

‘Last year I did the draw on Five Live and drew out Si Jiahui. We had history, so that was obviously going to happen, that was predictable. This year I’ll go for a hat-trick of predictions, I don’t think there’s any question at all that me and the Thunder will draw each other in round one.’

Robertson is far from the only potential nightmare draw, with the likes of Si, Jack Lisowski, Stuart Bingham, Maguire and Hossein Vafaei all still alive in qualifying.

Murphy believes seeds would normally fancy their chances against a player making their debut at The Crucible, but Si was doing just that last year as he downed the Magician and made it all the way to the semi-finals.

2023 Cazoo World Snooker Championship - Day 14

Si Jiahui beat Murphy, Rob Milkins and Anthony McGill on his Crucible debut (Picture: Getty Images)

‘They are all going to be hard,’ he said. ‘You might get a debutant, which is very difficult for them to settle, but then again I got Si Jiahui last year and look what happened there. He should have even beaten Luca and made it to the final.

‘Anyone else who has been there, done it, walked down those steps before, you’re up against it.

‘But no, I’ve already accepted it will be Neil and I in the first round and I’ll probably end up being very comfortable in the commentary box for a couple of weeks.’



Judgement Days Schedule

Tuesday 16 April

All matches over two sessions at 11am & 5pm

Jack Lisowski vs Matthew Stevens
Ricky Walden vs Mark Davis
Dominic Dale vs He Guoqiang
Zhou Yuelong vs Jak Jones
Stephen Maguire vs Yuan Sijun
Louis Heathcote vs Stuart Bingham
Robbie Williams vs Chris Wakelin
Lyu Haotian vs Jenson Kendrick

Wednesday 17 April

Jamie Jones vs Neil Robertson
Hossein Vafaei vs Jiang Jun
Joe O’Connor vs Matt Selt
Cao Yupeng vs Pang Junxu
Jackson Page vs Noppon Saengkham
Si Jiahui vs Wu Yize
Xiao Guodong vs David Gilbert
Scott Donaldson vs Ryan Day


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