Shaun Murphy to face Yan Bingtao - World Snooker Championship
Shaun Murphy has described Chinese prodigy Yan Bingtao as "a great role model for any young British or European players" ahead of his First Round show-down with the debutant at the 2017 World Championship on Sunday.
The 2005 World Champion to face the 17-year-old, who is one of the brightest prospects in snooker and set to become the first player born in the 2000s to appear at the Crucible.
Murphy has lost both of his previous meetings with Yan, but believes that his experience of playing at the great venue may well be crucial towards making it third time lucky over the best of 19 frames.
“He’s a very, very astute player for someone so young," Murphy told livesnooker.com. "He lives and breathes snooker and practices every hour that god sends.
"He’s a great role model for any young British or European players wanting to know how to play the game.”
“The one thing I have got in my favour is that I have the experience of making my debut here and it does funny things to players – some get inspired and some don’t like it.
"It’s very hard when you walk through that curtain to remember to breathe – the basic bodily functions seem to leave you. It’ll be my job to try and make him feel as uneasy as possible for as long possible.”
The Magician is looking to avoid a second consecutive First Round exit in Sheffield, having bowed out to Anthony McGill 12 months ago.
However, he is clear about what he needs to do in order to stamp an early authority on the match - likening the scenario to that of his golfing counterparts.
“In the first couple of frames of any match here, you don’t want to give your opponent an easy opportunity to settle themselves," he explained.
"It’s like a golfer wanting to hit the first fairway, hit the green and make two putts to feel like your systems are running well.
"In snooker, it’s nice to get an easy first chance to make 30 or 40 points in a nice way and not do anything silly. If I can avoid giving him any early chances, that will see me in good stead.
"The fact that he’s making his debut highlights that and makes it a bit more important to me, because he doesn’t know what it’s like out there.” World number five Murphy, who also reached the final here in 2009 and 2015, is making his 16th appearance at the Crucible this year.
He believes that the tournament is bigger and better than it has ever been, especially with the 40th anniversary adding a "special something" in 2017. Arriving off the back of a fairly decent season that has seen him lift the Gibraltar Open, the Magician is now looking to join the elite list of multiple World champions - an achievement that understandably tops his priority list.
“The win in Gibraltar has turned a good season into a memorable one," he added. "It’s always nice to play well, but a little more special to take a trophy home. It’d be very nice to finish the season off with a nice little run here.’’
“Winning this tournament more than once is what I’m chasing now for the rest of my career. I’m in that very lucky little club of players that have won it and not carrying the monkey around with me of being one of the best players never to have won the World Championship.’’
"So I can spend the next however many years trying to win it again.”