Murphy hits top form
Shaun Murphy began his Betfair World Championship clash with Graeme Dott in fearsome form to inflict a fresh blow to fading Scottish hopes of Crucible glory.
Potters from north of the border have landed 12 of the last 23 titles in Sheffield, with Stephen Hendry landing seven of those, John Higgins four and Dott one, in 2006, the year after Murphy triumphed.
But with Hendry now retired, and with Higgins, Stephen Maguire and Alan McManus knocked out in the first round, Dott has been left to fly the Saltire alone.
But it was hanging particularly limply today as Murphy built a 6-2 lead after the first session of the best-of-25-frames second round tussle.
Were Dott to lose, it would be the first time since 1988 that no Scot has reached the World Championship quarter-finals, and he left himself with everything to do on Friday, when they play morning and evening sessions to reach a finish.
Murphy was in sizzling shape, firing breaks of 128, a total clearance, and 112 in consecutive frames to breeze into a 3-1 interval lead, before adding runs of 54 and 99 in opening his four-frame cushion.
Dott had a 77 but was a spectator for much of the session, with the points differential of 670 to 178 telling the tale quite clearly.
World number four Murphy has had a strong season, finishing runner-up at the UK Championship and reaching semi-finals at the Shanghai Masters, International Championship, Masters and China Open.
At 30, the surprise is that the Sale-based cueman has not yet added to his one World Championship title, but on the evidence of his early performance against Dott this could well be the year he lands that elusive second.
Conversely, after a backbreaking first round victory over Peter Ebdon, that led to Dott calling for the introduction of shot clocks to speed up play, it was perhaps no surprise the man from Larkhall struggled.