Shaun Murphy has become the biggest casualty of the UK Championship so far after being downed 6-3 by Chen Feilong at the Barbican Centre on Wednesday.
Last year’s runner-up appeared to be in control when he led 3-1 at the mid-session interval but a run of 88 sandwiched in between a brace of 54 breaks helped Chen turn the deficit into a 4-3 advantage and the Chinese duly won the last two frames for a shock win.
It prolongs a dire 2018/19 campaign for Murphy, who has now lost at the last 128 stage an astounding six times since the World Open in the summer.
The “Magician”, who welcomed the birth of his second child this year, has recently moved to Ireland and one has to wonder if the change of scenery has had an impact on his game.
The 36 year-old is way off the pace in terms of the one-year rankings and is currently set to miss out in the upcoming lucrative Coral Cup series that incorporates three lucrative ranking events in February and March.
For Chen, who somewhat unusually bucked the trend this year by becoming a professional from China for the first time at the tender age of 36, it represents one of the wins of his career and he’ll be hoping to take advantage when he next takes on Martin O’Donnell in York.
There was another notable upset as Ryan Day fell to a surprise 6-2 loss to Joe O’Connor, a result that potentially opens up Judd Trump’s route to the last four.
Elsewhere on a busy second day of action, Masters champion Mark Allen compiled a couple of centuries as he powered past Basem Eltahhan while Stuart Bingham thumped James Wattana 6-0.
Also through courtesy of whitewash wins at the Barbican Centre were Joe Perry, who knocked in a 143 total clearance in hammering John Astley, and Hong Kong’s Marco Fu.
The latter needs to better Jack Lisowski’s performance in this event to have a chance of usurping the 27 year-old in the final Race to the Masters standings, with the pair intriguingly set to cross paths in the last 32.
There were comfortable triumphs too for Martin Gould, Graeme Dott, and David Gilbert – all of whom still harbour hopes of breaking into the top 16 in time to gain an invitation to the Alexandra Palace next month in London.
It was a much more arduous outing for John Higgins, with the Scot requiring all eleven frames to get passed Dechawat Poomjaeng in a match that concluded after midnight.
Meanwhile, 1992 UK champion Jimmy White wasn’t able to roll back the years as he was accounted for in a high-scoring contest with Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.
Fellow veterans Alan McManus and Joe Swail had a more enjoyable time of it, though, as they reached the last 64 with contrasting successes against Alexander Ursenbacher and Michael White respectively.
McManus used his experience to out-manoeuvre the Swiss 6-1 while Northern Ireland’s Swail took the last three frames to deny two-time ranking event winner White in a decider.
— Joe Swail (@joeswail) November 28, 2018
Among the other matches to go the distance were Akani Songsermsawad’s ousting of Eden Sharav – a recent semi-finalist in the Northern Ireland Open – and Tom Ford’s downing of Craig Steadman.
European Masters champion Jimmy Robertson almost squandered a commanding position against Jordan Brown before scrambling through with a 6-4 victory, the same scoreline that fellow Englishmen Gary Wilson and Liam Highfield emerged with against Billy Joe Castle and Robin Hull respectively.
Others to make it through at the Barbican Centre were Li Hang, Mike Dunn, Paul Davison, and Rod Lawler.
Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, world number one Mark Selby, and world champion Mark Williams are among those entering the fray on Thursday.