REIGNING Masters champion Shaun Murphy has been knocked out of the tournament he won in style twelve months ago.
Murphy, who thrashed Neil Robertson 10-2 to win one of snooker’s most prestigious trophies last year, lost 6-4 to Mark Allen in the first Masters match of this year’s event.
The match saw an incredible sixth frame which saw Murphy lose it immediately after committing free straight fouls on a red – which helped Allen on his way to an impressive victory.
With the scores level at 1-1 Allen took a 2-1 lead with a break of 137. But Murphy hit back with a break of 65 in the fourth frame to level at 2-2 at the interval.
After the restart Allen went back into the lead with a break of 91 before a remarkable moment saw Murphy have to forfeit the frame after failing to hit a long red three times in succession.
Allen then made Murphy pay even more in the next frame as a break of 104 put him on the verge of victory at 5-2 up.
Murphy, who reached last year’s World Championship final, hit back winning the next two frames but Allen secured his place in the quarter-finals winning a closely fought tenth frame.
After the match Allen said: “I’m very happy with the way I played, I scored heavily, took my chances well and got over the line in the end.
“I try my best in every match I play and every tournament I play. I’ll look back at the end of my career knowing that I gave everything out there. It’s very nice to still be in the tournament and with a chance to win the trophy.”
Murphy said he did not feel the forfeited sixth frame was not the main reason why he lost the match.
“It’s the rule. You don’t see it very often. Normally you would look for an alternative on the third go,” he said.
“I couldn’t see a Plan B. All other options left him a guaranteed chance so I had to man up, take a deep breath and play the right shot.
“Unfortunately I got it completely wrong. Did I lose the match because of it? No, I don’t think so, there were plenty of other frames.”
Allen will next face the winner of the first round tie between Barry Hawkins and Joe Perry.