Stuart Bingham makes winning start to Masters title defence

The 2020 winner halted a Thepchaiya Un-Nooh fightback to book a quarter-final spot.

Defending champion Stuart Bingham is into the last eight at the Masters
Defending champion Stuart Bingham is into the last eight at the Masters

Defending champion Stuart Bingham shrugged off a stirring comeback by Thepchaiya Un-Nooh to book his place in the quarter-finals of the Masters in Milton Keynes.

Bingham saw a 5-1 advantage shrink to 5-4 after missing a chance at a maximum, but took advantage of some rash decision-making from his Thai opponent to edge over the line.

Bingham, who beat Ali Carter to claim last year’s title, fired a break of 114 in the third frame and appeared set to round off his win in style with another 147.

However, a positional error on 64 denied Bingham what would have been his second maximum against the same player within a week after achieving the feat in last Monday’s Championship League.

Bingham was made to pay as Thepchaiya produced a brilliant clearance of 68 to take the frame, and subsequent breaks of 80 and 113 to reduce the deficit to one.

However, a rash decision to take on a pink in the 10th frame left the way open for a relieved Bingham to take his chance to get over the line.

2019 Betfred Snooker World Championship – Day Five – The Crucible
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh launched a stirring comeback (Nigel French/PA)

Afterwards Bingham insisted this year’s tournament has not been devalued by the enforced withdrawals of world number one Judd Trump and Jack Lisowski due to positive coronavirus tests.

Bingham said: “It is obviously a blow to the tournament with the world number one and probably the favourite to win it, but life goes on.

“You’ve just got to try to keep yourself and your family safe. What other people do is up to them and it’s a bit scary at the moment but you’ve just got to be sensible about it.”

Shaun Murphy booked his place in the quarter-finals with a 6-4 victory over Mark Williams in the battle of the former world champions.

Murphy signalled his intent from the off with a clearance of 93 to take the opening frame, but Williams responded 108 to level.

However, the Welshman went in 3-1 down at the break having passed up a series of chances to square it at 2-2.

The Welshman twice left reds over pockets as a tense fourth-frame safety battle unfolded with Williams comfortably ahead on the scoreboard.

Murphy ground his way to within touching distance, but looked to have blown his chance when he fluked the pink with the black on the side cushion, only to pull off a sensational long pot.

Mark Williams went down 6-4 to Shaun Murphy at the Masters in Milton Keynes
Mark Williams went down 6-4 to Shaun Murphy at the Masters in Milton Keynes (Adam Davy/PA)

Williams responded once again to reduce the deficit with another century break and then levelled at 3-3, on both occasions capitalising on errors by his opponent, and although Murphy made amends by edging a tight seventh frame, the Welshman took the eighth to reel him back in.

Murphy edged to within a frame of victory with a visit of 81 to take the next prompting Williams to break off in ultra-conservative style at the start of the 10th, and the ploy appeared to have worked when he established a commanding lead before missing a red, which left him looking on helplessly as the Englishman cleared to seal victory.

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