Shaun Murphy suffered an embarrassing Crucible first-round exit to debutant Si Jiahui - a player he once claimed “shouldn’t be in the building”.
In-form former champion Murphy lost 10-9 to World Championship qualifier and world No80 Si – who now has a 2-0 winning record against the Magician.
The only previous time they played Si prevailed 6-5 when still an amateur at the 2021 UK Championship in York – triggering an angry rant from Murphy.
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World No4 Murphy, now 40, reacted immediately after that defeat by saying amateur players had no place in major tournaments - and shouldn’t even be on the premises.
But Si, who has since earned a pro tour card, proved a big point in the Crucible Theatre building in thrilling and dramatic fashion after Murphy drew level at 9-9 from 9-6 adrift.
The lowest-ranked qualifier claimed the biggest win of his young life, ensuring Murphy became the highest seed to depart the event so far this year.
And it was an even bigger shock since Murphy had recently won both the Players and Tour Championship titles, leaving many thinking this was the best chance of a second title since 2005.
Murphy has also been questioned about the wisdom of his dual playing-punditry role, that saw him busy with the BBC prior to his first-round match.
It was a third first-round loss in four years at the World Championship for Murphy – although the other year in that spell he did reach the final.
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Murphy, generous in defeat, said: “There is an element of deflation, absolutely. I came here to win it, not to make the numbers up, but to win it.
“I wanted to continue the run from the Players Championship and the Tour Championship, but I feel like I walked into a brick wall there. He didn’t play like a debutant, but like someone who had been there many times with plenty of confidence.
“I think he will go on to massive, massive things. All great champions have a starting moment and I think this may be his.
“This was another example of how he has earned his right to play in these events by getting on tour, and I was right – he is some player. I did tell you!
“It was a cracking match, very exciting and I just came out on the wrong end of it. I have had many great nights out there in the Crucible Theatre, and I will have many more.
“Tonight was Si Jiahui’s night and I can only heap praise on him. I thought he was fabulous from start to finish. I think he will be the first Chinese world champion.
“It might not be this week, but I do think he will be the first. I have known how good he is for a long time, as everyone knows. And I see things in him I don’t see in some of the other players don’t have.
“He is very raw, talented, plays left handed and right handed, gets on with it, plays at pace and always tries to attack as 20 year-olds do.
“I threw everything at him and am proud of how I played. I never give up and tried my absolute best and have had a great season. I just lost. Nobody died.
“It has been maybe the biggest season of my snooker life. Turning 40 has given me a new perspective on life and it may have been my best season on the table.
“Losing 10-9 on the last red at the World Championship won’t spoil that. And I will enjoy staying here in the snooker family in my role with the BBC for the rest of the event.
“And I really feel we should drop the issue of me doing the BBC punditry, I have been doing it for years. This isn’t my first event doing it, people need to find a new topic of debate.
“I’m the snooker professional and I’ll have to pull rank on everyone else who isn’t. I know what’s best for my game, and I’ll continue until the BBC tells me otherwise.
“It does nothing but help my game. If my all-round game has improved over the past year, the key reason is down to all the snooker analysis I have been doing.”
Si said: “Even in the deciding frame I felt very relaxed because Shaun is the player of the season and so I had no pressure. I was just playing as if I was practising.
“I was surprised that I played so well in this match because I hadn’t been on the practice table so much.
“No matter who I play against, I just play my own game and I don’t think too much about the other player, or whether people think that I can win.
“I think that ability-wise I am not yet ready to win a World Championship, but I will enjoy every frame and shot that I play this year.”
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