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Masters Snooker 2016 Day One preview and order of play - Murphy out to kick-start title defence

Shaun Murphy of Great Britain celebrates (credit:Credit by bettingpro)

The 42nd staging of the most prestigious invitational tournament in world snooker kicks off on Sunday as reigning champion Shaun Murphy puts his title on the line.

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Featuring only the world's elite top 16 players, the Masters remains one of the most coveted competitions in the sport and is set to produce another week of memorable moments in the capital.

A bumper crowd will once again pack out the Alexandra Palace to catch a glimpse of the sport's big names, and the £600,000 show-piece plays host to a pair of tasty ties on day one.

As per Masters tradition, the defending champion will begin his title defence in the opening match of the tournament, with Murphy up against tricky Ulsterman Mark Allen.

Murphy thrashed Neil Robertson 10-2 in last year's final to complete a terrific career triple crown and is aiming to become the first player since Paul Hunter in 2002 to successfully retain this trophy.

The world number six has under-performed by his standards so far this season and is yet to pick up a ranking title since reaching the World Championship final last May.

He will be wary of the threat posed by attacking left-hander Allen - whom he defeated 6-2 in the Semi-Finals en route to glory here 12 months ago.

Allen picked up November's Bulgarian Open title and was a semi-finalist at the Shanghai Masters two month's earlier, suggesting his top form may not be too far away.

He has suffered only two first round exits in seven previous Masters appearances and will be quietly confident of ending 'The Magician's' title hopes in this year's curtain-raiser.

Ding Junhui of China plays a shot (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
The day's other clash sees reigning World Champion Stuart Bingham take on 2011 Masters Champion - Ding Junhui.

Both players have struggled for form in major ranking tournaments so far this season, particularly Bingham, who has suffered a number of early exits amid the added pressure that being World Champion brings.

Furthermore, the number two seed has never tasted victory on the Masters stage in any of his six previous appearances, a barren statistic that he will be desperate to put right in 2016.

Ding, meanwhile, rose to fame courtesy of his run to the final at Wembley in 2007, before being reduced to tears in a crushing defeat to Ronnie O'Sullivan.

He went on to lift the title four years later, but has endured mixed fortunes this term, with just one major ranking Quarter-Final to his name.

The heavy-scoring Chinese star is aiming to end a run of four consecutive first round exits in this competition and mark a welcomed return to form in the new calendar year.

The action gets underway at 1pm GMT, with all matches to be contested over the best of 11 frames at the Alexandra Palace in London.

Dafabet Masters 2016 match schedule

Sunday January 10

Round One

1pm
Shaun Murphy v Mark Allen 

7pm
Stuart Bingham v Ding Junhui 


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Masters Snooker 2016 Day One preview and order of play - Murphy out to kick-start title defence

The 42nd staging of the most prestigious invitational tournament in world snooker kicks off on Sunday as reigning champion Shaun Murphy puts his title on the line.

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