Snooker

Lisbon Open preview: Shaun Murphy eyes third European Tour title in a row

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Shaun Murphy is seeking a third consecutive European Tour victory at the inaugural Lisbon Open, as professional snooker visits Portugal for the first time.

In the fifth European Tour event of the season, and the final ranking event of 2014, 11 of the world's top 16 line up at the Casal Vistoso Sport Centre, for the €125,000 tournament which carries a €25,000 first prize.

Murphy has been victorious in the last two European Tour tournaments, in Bulgaria and Germany.

BOTTOM HALF TO BEGIN ON FRIDAY

With the qualification phases completed, Friday marks the beginning of the 128-man event, which sees the opening three rounds from the bottom half of the draw, with all matches set to be played over the best of seven frames.

Recent UK Championship runner-up, Judd Trump, begins his bid for a second ranking title of the year against countryman Tom Ford. A potential third round encounter with two-time world champion Mark Williams awaits, in a section of the draw that also contains Anthony Hamilton.

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World number five and the highest ranked player in the tournament, Barry Hawkins, starts his campaign against England's Chris Norbury, and faces the prospect of a second round match with Andrew Higginson. Hawkins will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing defeat at the UK Championship, where he lost to Nigel Bond 6-5, despite winning the first five frames.

International Champion Ricky Walden will look to banish the memories of a 6-0 loss to Stuart Bingham in York, starting with Scotland's Marcus Campbell. A last 64 bout with Ryan Day is probable for round two, while another Scot in Graeme Dott continues the tricky route. Marco Fu is also in the same portion of the draw.

Robert Milkins, who made the final of the season's fourth European Tour event last month in Ruhr, begins his tournament against Ian Burns. China's Xiao Guodong, a Shanghai Masters finalist in 2013, could meet Milkins in round two, while crowd favourite Jimmy White is a possible last 32 opponent. Joe Perry and recent UK quarter-finalist Anthony McGill, could play Milkins in the last 16.

MURPHY TO ENTER THE FRAY ON SATURDAY

The top half of the draw will play their opening three rounds on Saturday, with Shaun Murphy, Stephen Maguire, John Higgins, and Stuart Bingham all set to be in action.

The event concludes on Sunday, as the tournament plays from the last 16 stage to a finish on a marathon day, where the eventual winner is required to win a mammoth 16 frames in four matches.

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Topics:
Stephen Maguire
Judd Trump
Shaun Murphy
Snooker
John Higgins

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