Hossein Vafaei
Hossein Vafaei has now beaten Mark Selby in their last three meetings at Triple Crown events
Venue: Alexandra Palace, London Dates: 8 January -15 January
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV and Red Button with uninterrupted coverage on BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app

Hossein Vafaei produced a superb display to move into the quarter-finals of the Masters with a 6-2 win over three-time champion Mark Selby.

The Iranian debutant always looked in control against an under-par Selby and made three half-centuries and two centuries as he clinched victory.

Earlier on Sunday Shaun Murphy held off a stirring fightback from defending champion Neil Robertson in his 6-4 win.

Murphy now faces Kyren Wilson or Stuart Bingham in the last eight on Friday.

Vafaei, a late entry to one of snooker’s most prestigious events because of Zhao Xintong’s suspension amid a match-fixing investigation, will meet John Higgins or Jack Lisowski in the last eight on Thursday.

Although Vafaei was making his bow at Alexandra Palace he is no stranger to the big occasion and has now got the better of Selby in their last three meetings at Triple Crown events, having beaten the world number two in the 2021 and 2022 UK Championship.

He always looked in control against an out-of-sorts Selby, who uncharacteristically ran out of position several times and was never able to get in front after Vafaei pinched the first frame on the black.

There were several lengthy safety exchanges and the score was tied 2-2 at the mid-session interval, but world number 19 Vafaei appeared more at ease among the balls.

That feeling was underlined by breaks of 52 and 107 before he cut loose by winning four frames in succession with breaks of 99, 65 and 104.

“Am I asleep or awake? Honestly I can’t believe it,” Vafaei told BBC Sport.

“Mark Selby is such a tough opponent. He never gives up and is such a legend. It is always a great match between us. I am so proud of myself to beat him. He is one of the greatest ambassadors we have.”

Robertson’s revival comes too late

Murphy, the 2015 winner, made breaks of 98, 53, 61 and 100 before sealing his victory in a nervy 10th frame.

Robertson, who opened with a 73, went 5-1 down before reeling off three consecutive frames that included breaks of 84 and 104.

“I was as surprised as anyone to find myself 5-1 ahead,” Murphy told BBC Sport.

“The seventh frame won’t be on the highlights and then I sat in my chair for 45 minutes while he played snooker from the gods.

“You are thinking ‘he’s on the blue, people are going to say it’s a collapse’, but it wasn’t in the end. My game is good but I had really good advice from my daughter on Instagram, who said ‘Daddy remember to pot some balls’.

“It was just about getting the win. And wins in these big gala events have been thin on the ground for me over the last few seasons.”

Robertson, who had to return home after initially forgetting his cue, made light of a later-than-expected arrival at the venue by claiming the first frame with a break of 73.

That was initially as good as it got for the Australian in a repeat of the 2012 and 2015 finals.

Murphy, whose long potting was excellent throughout, responded with a wonderful 98 and another half-century before going into the mid-session interval with a healthy 3-1 lead.

Both players suffered lapses of concentration in the fifth frame, missing easy chances on the green before Murphy extended his advantage after Robertson left the pink over the bottom right corner pocket.

A miscued black off its spot was expertly punished in the sixth frame as Murphy made a composed 100.

But a scrappy seventh frame in which both players had good opportunities laid the platform for a stirring Robertson revival that continued with a swift half-century and a maximum 147 attempt that ended after 13 reds and 13 blacks.

However, a missed blue off its spot into the left middle and then another into the same pocket proved costly for Robertson in the next and allowed Murphy to wrap up victory and avoid a final-frame decider.

Listen on Sounds bannerListen on Sounds footer

Source link