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Shaun Murphy and John Higgins Advance in Preston

Shaun Murphy moved into the last 16 of the World Grand Prix after a routine 4-1 victory over Ricky Walden in Preston on Tuesday.

World Grand Prix
Murphy lost in the final of the UK Championship this season. Photo credit: World Snooker

The 2016 champion, who has been one of the form players of this campaign, shared the opening two frames with his fellow Englishman before gradually taking control to finish with breaks of 84 and a classy 105.

Murphy is looking for a first ranking event title of the season having three times fallen just short at the last hurdle, although he was victorious in the lucrative Champion of Champions invitational in Coventry.

The former world champion will be challenged by countryman Jack Liswoski on Wednesday evening and in the betting comparison¬†Murphy is the fourth favourite for World Grand Prix glory this week behind Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, and John Higgins.

Meanwhile, 2015 champion Judd Trump produced a fairly dismal display as he was overturned by Michael White in a 4-1 scoreline.

Trump has been up and down all season with several high points, like his defence of the European Masters, countered with plenty of matches to forget.

White, to his credit, took full advantage despite not playing particularly well himself but breaks of 55 and 89 were enough to help the Welshman establish a 3-1 lead and he sealed the triumph by taking the fifth frame on a re-spotted black.

The Paul Hunter Classic winner will meet Joe Perry in the second round after the veteran edged the in-form Graeme Dott in a close affair 4-2.

Elsewhere, John Higgins fought back from 3-2 down to deny Ali Carter in a high-quality encounter that went the distance at the Guild Hall on day two.

The pair traded nice breaks as they shared the opening four frames before the play became a little scrappier with the winning line in sight.

Carter appeared to steal a march by scoring a 54 to lead in the match for the only time but Higgins responded in trademark fashion to eek out the success.

The Scot will battle with Xiao Guodong after the Chinese superbly reversed a 3-0 deficit to Mark Allen, reeling off four frames on the trot to deny the stunned Masters champion.

Xiao had let slip a 4-0 lead of his own in the quarter-finals of the recent German Masters but it was his turn to mount an incredible comeback as he took advantage of a clear lapse in concentration from his opponent.

Allen remains in a dangerous position in the Race to the Crucible provisional world rankings and will need to produce in the next few tournaments if he’s to guarantee his place in the World Snooker Championship.

Neil Robertson strengthened his Sheffield cause, though, with an impressive 4-1 defeat of David Gilbert that included a century break and three further runs above 50.

Anthony McGill repeated the scoreline against Cao Yupeng while another Scot in Stephen Maguire did his chances of leaping back into the top 16 in the world rankings no harm after a comprehensive 4-0 drubbing of Li Hang.

On day three, the first round reaches its conclusion with world number one Mark Selby and Ding Junhui entering the fray, as well as an eye-catching duel between Mark Williams and Stuart Bingham.

Later in the day, the last 16 commences with Ronnie O’Sullivan among those back in action.

Coverage continues on ITV4.

Click here to view the draw. (Times:CET)



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World Rankings Top 16

World Rankings after the Northern Ireland Open – won by Mark Allen.

1. Judd Trump
2. Mark Selby
3. Ronnie O’Sullivan
4. Neil Robertson
5. Kyren Wilson
6. John Higgins
7. Shaun Murphy
8. Stephen Maguire
9. Mark Allen
10. Ding Junhui
11. Mark Williams
12. Stuart Bingham
13. Yan Bingtao
14. Barry Hawkins
15. Jack Lisowski
16. Anthony McGill

Fin Ruane Snooker Academy