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Last Updated: Monday, 10 April 2006, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
Murphy relishing Crucible return
By Chris Charles

Shaun Murphy
Murphy has had a thrilling year
Shaun Murphy cannot wait to return to the scene of his finest hour - after enjoying the best year of his life.

The 150-1 outsider became the first qualifier to win the World Championship for 26 years when he defeated Matthew Stevens 18-16 in last year's final.

And Murphy will not be giving up his crown without a fight.

He told BBC Sport: "Winning the world title was a dream come true. I wake up in the morning and see the trophy and think 'Wow! What was all that about?'"

The 23-year-old, who plays James Wattana in the first round at The Crucible, has struggled to hit top form since his victory in Sheffield. But his appearance in last month's Welsh Open - where he lost to Stephen Lee - was more encouraging.

"Since I've become world champion I've become more of a scalp in some players' eyes," Murphy admitted.

"People used to try hard against me anyway because I was this up and coming kid who they wanted to put in his place.

"In a couple of the matches I've lost this season, the players have played phenomenally well and it's a credit to them. Some people crumble a bit when they play the world champion but some really come after you - and they get you!"

James Wattana
Murphy plays James Wattana in the first round at The Crucible

Whatever happens at The Crucible, Murphy insists he will not feel the pressure.

"I'm trying to play the same game and do the same things as I've always done," he said.

"If other people want to talk about the pressures of being world champion, that's fine. But I've not really experienced that - I've enjoyed every minute of it.

"2005 was a real roller-coaster year for me. I won the World Championship in May, got married in July, had the honeymoon and moved house! It was absolutely manic but I wouldn't have changed it for anything.

"Being world champion really is a phenomenal thing to experience. Win lose or draw, I'm having a lot of fun."

Champion Murphy to face Wattana
16 Mar 06 |  Snooker
Lee eases to Welsh Open victory
05 Mar 06 |  Snooker


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