World number one Mark Selby was defeated 6-2 by fellow Englishman Shaun Murphy in the quarter-final of The Masters at Alexandra Palace.
The two-time champion was favourite to see off his close friend and progress to the semi-final for a fourth time but never looked in control of proceedings throughout.
The Leicester man struggled at the end of his encounter with Stephen Lee in the opening round and couldn’t improve on his performance against former world and UK champion Murphy in the last eight in London.
Murphy played within himself and took advantage of some scrappy frames before the mid-session interval to lead 3-1 but was undoubtedly thankful that his opponent was not at his best.
Indeed, Selby could have won most of the frames but wasted the majority of his opportunities through poor safety or missed pots – uncharacteristic for a player that has proven to be one of the most consistent on the tour in recent years.
At 5-1 behind, the 28 year-old did eventually find his form and appeared set to compile only the third ever 147 break in the prestigious invitational event but failed to find ideal position off the 14th black before rattling a difficult final red in the jaws of the yellow pocket.
The pressure implied didn’t seem to matter too much as Murphy, despite a small wobble in the next, emerged victorious to reach his first semi-final of the only major tournament that has proved elusive for him so far in his career.
Earlier in the day, Neil Robertson withstood a fightback from Mark Williams to also make the last four for the first time in his career and book an exciting meeting with Judd Trump for a place in the final.
Robertson looked a little nervy when protecting a 4-1 and 5-3 advantage and could have been tested further if his Welsh opponent hadn’t missed a straight forward black in the tenth frame but the Aussie former world champion sealed the triumph and will prove a tricky obstacle for hotshot Trump to overcome tomorrow.