Reanne Evans loses 4-3 to Shaun Murphy on Champion of Champions debut

Snooker player Reanne Evans takes a shot
Reanne Evans has made a 140 break in competitive play

World number eight Shaun Murphy survived a superb fightback from Reanne Evans on her Champion of Champions debut to win 4-3 in Coventry.

Evans, 34, was 3-0 down after an untidy start but took the match to a decider, which Murphy won in style with a 130.

Murphy, 37, then lost 6-5 to Neil Robertson, who is into the semi-finals.

Evans, the 12-time women's world champion, had a highest break of 51 in the biggest payday of her career, with first-round losers receiving £12,500.

"Even my wife was reluctant to wish me good luck today," Murphy quipped. "She did, but through gritted teeth.

"I really hope we see more of Reanne on the main event."

Midlander Evans, who beat Robin Hull in the first qualifying round at the 2017 World Championship, was assured of a place when Ronnie O'Sullivan, who had already qualified, retained the Shanghai Masters last month.

Both players struggled with the table in the early stages and after Evans left the yellow in the jaws of the pocket, Murphy cleared to the pink to take a 3-0 lead.

Evans took a scrappy fourth frame when she sank a tricky frame-ball blue and built a 54-point lead over a floundering Murphy in frame five, sealing it with four outstanding pots in succession from the yellow.

Aided by a fluked red on 36, she then added a 51, Murphy responded with a 53 but left a difficult red and Evans cued perfectly from tight on the cushion to pot into the middle pocket.

But after Evans went "in-off" in the decider, 2005 world champion Murphy, 37 - who in September won his first ranking title since March 2017 - rolled in a composed century.

Earlier this year, Evans made history along with Emma Parker at the Snooker Shoot Out as they became the first women to play on television in the final stages of a ranking event in the UK.

Both lost in round one, Evans to Jimmy White and Parker to Laxman Rawat.

Murphy saw a 3-0 lead evaporate again as Australian Robertson - who beat Martin Gould 4-0 in the first match of the event - levelled with breaks of 95, 90 and 100 and took the decider to win Group Four.

Defending champion O'Sullivan will play old friend White on Thursday.

White, 57, a six-time Crucible runner-up, won the World Seniors title this year.

The competition, with a top prize of £150,000, takes place at the Ricoh Arena until Sunday and features tournament winners from the previous 12 months.

The format comprises 16 players split into four groups. Each group contains two semi-finals followed by a final, with the winners of the four groups going through to the overall semi-finals.

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