Crow steals spotlight as Murphy bows out
Shaun Murphy was left contemplating swapping his snooker cue for a shooting iron after he was taken out 5-4 by Peter Ebdon in the Australian Goldfields Open quarter-finals while a bird squawked in the background.
The 2005 world champion Murphy could only muster a paltry break of six among the balls in the final frame before Ebdon concluded his business with a frame and match-winning 56 inside Bendigo Stadium in Victoria.
2002 world champion Ebdon progresses to a semi-final with Marco Fu, who throttled Stephen Lee 5-1 in the other opening quarter-final.
Ebdon is two wins away from snaring a second ranking title inside three months having claimed the China Open in April.
After a television interviewer apologised for "a crow's" arrival and promised it to sort it out in future, Murphy replied: "I'll sort it out if you give me a gun."
He added: "We tried to give a good performance, and I think we did. I thought I had a lot of bad luck today, but you've got to keep going.
Adding to Murphy's woes - and the ominous 'Friday the 13th' hoodoo - was a post-match accident which cost the player his smartphone, lamenting on his Twitter account: "If my day couldn't get worse, just dropped my iPhone and smashed it to pieces."
The opening four frames of the match were split with Ebdon producing a 111 in the third frame to lead 2-1. A knock of 50 saw Murphy restore parity at 2-2.
Murphy could have led 2-0 only to miss a simple red to a middle hole that enabled Ebdon to level at 1-1.
A safety error by Murphy in the fifth frame saw Ebdon compile 79 for a 3-2 advantage, but the lead was eroded when world number seven Murphy came up with a timely 94 of his own.
Murphy had the opportunity to lead 4-3 only to break down on 44 as a red to a middle bag eluded him.
Ebdon contributed 55 before a timely snooker brought 16 points in fouls.
Murphy produced the snooker he needed when Ebdon failed to hit the yellow only to hand the frame back to his opponent when a white ball flew into a pocket via a safety attempt off the brown.
A relieved Ebdon slotted brown, blue and pink to move one up with a possible two to play.
Murphy responded with a 111 to force the deciding frame, but his form deserted him in the key moments.
Ebdon has won all his matches this week in the final frame after a 5-4 win over Michael Holt and a marathon win over Ding Junhui that attracted derision for lasting five hours.
"Somebody in the crowd said you give value for money, but at least you know I am trying," commented Ebdon.
Marco Fu had an easier passage to the last four in ousting Stephen Lee.
The man from Happy Valley in Hong Kong cut a content figure in winning the final four frames of his match with runs of 48, 99 and 59,
With Murphy out, a rejuvenated Mark Davis is the new tournament favourite. He will face Barry Hawkins in the other semi-final after Davis continued his recent impressive run of form with a 5-2 win over Martin Gould.
Davis, from Hastings, reached the last four of the Wuxi Classic in China a fortnight ago before winning the Six Red World Championship in Thailand last week.
He cites an improved mental approach working with former world champion Terry Griffiths as the reason behind his recent success. Davis always looked the more assured figure against Gould as he ran in rapid knocks of 92, 54, 63 and 49 in winning the final three frames to reach the last four.
"It is going for me at the moment. That is for sure,” said Davis. "But you don't take it for granted. I can't think of too many balls I missed.”
Hawkins was in brighter shape than his 5-2 win over Matthew Stevens in the previous round as breaks of 66, 65, 67 and 102 saw him progress with a 5-3 win over Matthew Selt to what could be a heavy-scoring contest with Davis on Saturday night in Victoria.