Stephen Maguire came through a nerve shredding encounter with James Cahill to win 13-12 and clinch his place in the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship.
Scotland’s Maguire will now face either Judd Trump or Ding Junhui in the last eight. It’s the sixth time that world number 15 Maguire has reached the Crucible quarter-finals. However, he hasn’t done it the easy way. Both his matches this year have now come down to a deciding frame, having already edged out China’s Tian Pengfei 10-9 in round one.
Cahill’s fairytale run comes to an end. The Blackpool potter became the first ever amateur to compete at the Crucible by qualifying. In doing so he also secured his professional tour card for next season by virtue of the one-year list. Cahill then produced a seismic shock in World Championship history, when he knocked out world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-8 in the opening round.
Maguire came into this afternoon’s concluding session with a 9-7 advantage, after producing breaks of 83 and 121 to take the final two frames of the second session. When play got underway today, Cahill quickly reeled him in with runs of 63 and 74 to draw level at 9-9.
A contribution of 65 helped Maguire to edge back in front. However, Cahill ensured parity at the mid-session by taking the next frame to make it 10-10.
When play resumed Cahill took the lead for the first time in the match, making the most of a table length double to clear with 25 and steal the frame. Maguire then levelled at 11-11 thanks to a break of 71, before a dramatic 23rd frame.
Cahill appeared to be in a strong position among the balls, before fouling the pink with his waistcoat. Both players then spurned opportunities to move one from victory. Eventually Cahill crucially missed the final brown. A safety battle ensued, with Maguire depositing the brown first to get over the line in the frame and move one from victory.
Cahill clinched a tense 24th frame to force a decider. However, it was Maguire who held his nerve with contributions of 29 and 30 to book his quarter-final spot.
“I’m not enjoying it. Two deciders and two matches I could have lost easily, but I’m still in it,” said 38-year-old Maguire. “I’ll hold my hands up, I was gone out there, my cue action went to bits and I didn’t believe I could pot a ball in the end. Somehow I managed to muster up a decent last frame. I don’t know where that came from.
“I’m shattered at the moment. I’m going to change my tip tonight and then I’ve got two days off. I’ll smash in the new tip, work on a bit of technique and try and improve for that next match.”
Cahill said: “It’s swings and roundabouts. I was in a bit of a flow, but then the interval came and sort of took it away from me. It’s hard to keep that flow going, but if you can then it is possible to reel off a few frames with the momentum. It was a good game and I wish him all the best.”