sport

Murphy and Higgins dumped out

Former world champions John Higgins and Shaun Murphy suffered shock first-round exits at the BetVictor Welsh Open on Tuesday.

World number five Higgins had been in fine form on Monday at the Newport Centre, beating Gareth Allen 4-1 with breaks of 120, 99 and 97, but could not replicate that display as he lost 4-1 to Ken Doherty.

And Murphy then lost 4-3 to Pankaj Advani, despite rallying from 3-1 down to force a deciding frame.

Doherty took the first two frames on Tuesday afternoon but Higgins won a closely-fought third.

Doherty needed several attempts to wrap up the next frame, but eventually did so by potting the final brown to move within one frame of victory.

A break of 46 put him in control in the next and Higgins' response stalled at 14 before the Irishman sealed victory.

"It was a war of attrition, there was a lot of good safety," said Doherty, who won this competition in 1993 and 2001 and triumphed at the Crucible in 1997.

"You have to match John in every department and I beat him with my safety game today."

Advani won the first frame on Tuesday evening and though Murphy drew level, a century break took the tour newcomer from India ahead once more at 2-1.

He won the next to leave Murphy needing three successive frames, but the world number four cut the deficit with a break of 89 before taking the match to a decider.

Once there, though, Advani opened up a commanding lead and although Murphy played on needing at least two snookers and a free ball, he could not find a way back.

Neil Robertson, the 2007 champion, made breaks of 71, 56 and 70 in a routine 4-1 win over Ian Burns while Mark Allen beat Marco Fu 4-2.

Stephen Maguire was in good form in a 4-2 win over Anthony Hamilton, with breaks of 89 and 100 in the early stages.

He will next face Matthew Stevens, a 4-2 winner over China's Liang Wenbo. Liang had beaten Ryan Day in the preliminary round but could not add a second Welsh scalp.

Stevens said: "I haven't practised for this tournament so I thought I'd just turn up and see what happens.

"I feel capable of winning any tournament, but you have to go out there and do it on the table."

Alan McManus saw off Barry Hawkins 4-2 while Sam Baird made short work of Northern Ireland's Gerard Greene, a break of 73 wrapping up a 4-0 win for the world number 89.