Shaun Murphy admitted he had been extremely fortunate to defeat Yuan Sijun 6-5 in the last 64 of the International Championship.
The 2005 World Champion was taken to the wire by the precocious Chinese teenager, the match finally being decided on the final black.
Murphy needs to enjoy a good tournament in Daqing as he is in danger of slipping out of the world’s top 16. The 36-year-old has won seven ranking titles during his career, and been the runner-up in 11 more, but his last victory came at the 2017 Gibraltar Open when he defeated Judd Trump in the final.
Since that triumph he has been beaten in five finals – last year’s Players Championship and Scottish Open as well as the China Championship, Paul Hunter Classic and UK Championship in 2017. Murphy had trailed 4-2 and 5-4 against Yuan before forcing a final frame which he won with a clearance of 32 including the final black.
He said afterwards: “It was unbelievable for a last-64 game. He played like a regular tournament winner. I was sat there thinking about what I was going to say afterwards when he was ahead. “After last season I need a good week every week.
Unfortunately I can do nothing about the ranking list. All I can do is prepare well for each game. It is a bit of a cliche, but all I can control is what I do out there and my attitude.
“Last year was the worst of my life. It is my job to try and turn that around.”
Murphy is 29.00 to win the UK Championship later this year while Trump can be backed at 4.20 and Neil Robertson at 6.50.