• Shanghai Masters

Higgins kicks off title defence in style in Shanghai

ESPN staff
September 16, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
John Higgins knocked in consecutive century breaks to progress © Getty Images
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John Higgins sailed into the next round of the Shanghai Masters after the defending champion brushed aside Mike Dunn 5-1 in his opening encounter.

The four-time champion of the world has made a strong start to the new campaign, winning the Bulgarian Open and reaching the final of the Wuxi Classic - all with a new cue.

And the Scot continued his good form as he rattled in back-to-back centuries of 100 and 107 en route to dropping just one frame in his opening encounter. Higgins won the event in dramatic circumstances 12 months ago after coming from 5-0 and 7-2 down to defeat Judd Trump 10-9, and made a 147 maximum break along the way.

Former world and UK champion Shaun Murphy survived a scare as he edged out China's Yu Delu 5-4 to progress.

Murphy raced into a 2-0 lead with knocks of 116 and 77. However, Yu hit back to square the encounter with runs of 80 and 72.

Murphy clinched a scrappy fifth frame to move back in front, but Yu would not throw in the towel and forced a deciding frame. He blew his chance to claim a huge scalp though as he snookered himself on the final red, which allowed Murphy to step in and avoid an upset.

"I'm relieved more than anything. There were parts of the game where I played very well. We both had chances in the last frame so I was pleased to fall over the line," Murphy said after a tough encounter.

"The way the structure in snooker is now, the rewards for doing well are very big and the penalties for doing poorly are bad. This season hasn't been a good one for me so far but there are lots of opportunities ahead. I'm just pleased not to be on the plane home because I could have easily lost that match. I have probably been practising more than anyone and maybe that helped today."

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