sport

Murphy hungry for success

Shaun Murphy has embarked on a diet packed with greens - and now the reds and blacks are coming a lot easier too for the former world champion.

The 2005 winner at the Crucible fired his first 147 maximum break for 13 years this week during the Championship League event in Essex, and heads to the Dafabet Masters at Alexandra Palace full of confidence.

A lean, happy Murphy is aiming to impose himself again at the very top of world snooker, having experienced what by his high standards can be considered a career lull, failing to reach a major final for two years.

He was "blown away" by his maximum break at the start of the new year, with the only disappointment being that it came in a tournament played behind closed doors, earning him a bonus of just 500.

Sale-based Murphy will be aiming for the 200,000 top prize in London, although a first-round match against China's Ding Junhui promises to test him to the limit.

The healthy lifestyle is one Murphy hopes will improve his prospects on the table, with the 31-year-old admitting: "In the past, my relationship with food was always based on how I felt. As a sportsman you are constantly up and down and that affected my diet.

"Since August, I have stopped eating things which I don't deem to be good for me.

"I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, though I haven't gone vegan like Peter Ebdon. I've given up fizzy drinks and I just drink a lot of water instead, plus I've given up chocolate. I'm just generally being healthier.

"Having done and it and enjoyed the rewards of it, I wish I had done this years ago.

"I've been going through a tough time on the table. I keep coming up against players who play fantastic snooker against me and deserve their victories.

"There's not much I can try other than good old fashioned hard work. I have improved the weaknesses in my game and I know that good things are just around the corner."

Murphy was a Masters finalist two years ago, and he said: "I didn't have a great record in it until it moved (from Wembley Arena) to Ally Pally, and since then I've been runner-up and got to the semi-finals. I like the venue."

World number one and UK champion Neil Robertson has already broken the record for most centuries by a player in a season, with the campaign barely at its halfway stage, going past Judd Trump's 2012/13 mark of 61 this week.

The 31-year-old Australian returns to the Masters, knowing it is an event where he has thrived.

"I won it in the first year at Alexandra Palace and got to the final last year so I'm very keen to maintain that really good record," Robertson said on worldsnooker.com.

"(My aim for 2014 is) just to become a better player than I was last year.

"It's going to be difficult but I've been able to do that for the last 14 or 15 years that I've been playing the game.

"If that happens then tournaments will come. I can't set any goal of wanting to win x amount of tournaments - you can't really control that."

Robertson starts against Northern Ireland's Mark Allen on Wednesday, while world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan takes on fellow English cueman Robert Milkins in his opener on Tuesday.

Sunday's opening day sees four-time world champion John Higgins face Stuart Bingham, while defending champion Mark Selby plays Mark Davis.