Bahrain Championship Latest: Seeds continue to fall

Two players in desperate need of a win this afternoon were Shaun Murphy and Ken Doherty, but not for the first time this season, things did not go to plan for the seeded duo…

Shaun Murphy 4-5 Mike Dunn

Following the exit of Jamie Cope this morning, this afternoon it was the turn of Shaun Murphy to lose out to a qualifier as he was defeated 5-4 by journeyman Mike Dunn in Bahrain.

At the start of the match it looked like Murphy was back in business as he quickly moved into a 2-0 lead with breaks of 61 in each of the first two frames. This was set to become 3-0 but having done the hard work and apparently potted frame ball, Shaun missed a black off the spot and gave Mike the opportunity to play for snookers. After a long tactical exchange Mike eventually managed to get the snooker on the yellow and remarkably Shaun failed to hit it, as well as leaving a free ball. Dunn duly went on to steal what would be a crucial frame and give himself a chance at only 2-1 down.

Murphy must have been kicking himself at this stage and his game appeared to disintegrate as he began to miss several easy balls. He did just about enough in the next frame to move into the interval at 3-1, but although Mike was not playing brilliantly himself, he must have thought that he had a chance against Murphy in this form.

So it proved as after the break, Dunn came out and took a couple of scrappy frames to level the match at 3-3. While Shaun has his chances though, Dunn gave him none in the next frame as he wrapped it up with a 70 break to go into the lead for the first time. Though Murphy forced a decider by taking frame eight, another strong 67 break from Dunn secured a remarkable victory, one of his best in recent years against the world number three.

Shaun meanwhile will be gutted not only to have lost the match, but with the way he played after the first two frames as he really should not have given Dunn a way back into it from that position. Now having lost five consecutive ranking matches, four at the start of this season, this run of poor form is becoming something of a crisis for Murphy who could now slip further down the rankings from the 7th place he current occupies. With the UK Championship coming up, the second biggest event of the season, Murphy urgently needs a good result, not only for his ranking but for his confidence which must be as low as it has been since his 2005 World title.

Ken Doherty 3-5 Barry Hawkins

In this afternoon’s other match, Ken Doherty made it three defeats out of three so far for the seeded players as he again lost his opening match, this time to Barry Hawkins.

In what was a close start, Barry held his nerve to take the opener on a respotted black before Ken hit back to move into a 2-1 lead. Hawkins however took the last before the interval with a solid 96 break to go in level at 2-2.

From here Hawkins really began to motor, hitting breaks of 67, 50 and 65 to go 4-2 up and leave Ken facing another defeat. Though he rallied to take frame seven with a 60 of his own, Hawkins wrapped it up in the next to earn a clash with Murphy’s conqueror Mike Dunn.

This is a good chance for Barry to make a mark on a ranking tournament again after a quiet couple of seasons. An obviously talented player, since he reached the top 16 for the first time in 2006/7, he has never quite been able to push on and now finds himself down at 27 in the rankings. If he can win against Dunn and reach another quarter-final though, he will be moving nicely in the right direction once again.

As for Ken, it is unfortunate that he drew a player as talented and as experienced as Hawkins in the last 32 as he is in desperate need of a result at the moment in order to halt his slide down the rankings. It was not to be today though and it looks very much like he will find himself provisionally outside of the top 40 next week. At his age it will be a long way back from there unfortunately and the way he is playing, it is hard to see where his next win is going to come from…


Ken Doherty 3-5 Barry Hawkins 66(35)-73(66)(respot black), 68-49(33), 64(32)-1, 0-96(96), 0-117(67,50), 0-84(65), 66(60)-57(36), 36(36)-81(49)
Shaun Murphy 4-5 Mike Dunn 91(61)-8, 71(61)-0, 69(38)-78, 77(69)-27, 1-69, 54(43)-75, 6-70(70), 76-39(39), 9-81(67)