Anthony McGill stormed back from four frames behind to stun Ryan Day 10-8 at the Betfred World Championship.
It’s another fine Crucible win for the former World Championship quarter-finalist McGill. The Glaswegian reserves some of his best performances for snooker’s Theatre of Dreams and inflicted the Crucible curse on Mark Selby in 2015. Although, he did suffer a crushing 10-2 defeat against compatriot Stephen Maguire last year.
Scotland’s McGill was pinned firmly against the ropes after a superb first session display from his opponent. Day became only the second player to compose two breaks over 140 in a single session at the Crucible, as he established a 6-3 advantage.
That cushion was soon added to this afternoon, as Day moved 7-3 up thanks to a break of 51. McGill then mounted a charge to eat into the Welshman’s lead and as he did so, a shroud of tension moved over the Crucible Theatre.
Both players started to miss straightforward shots, but it was the 27-year-old McGill who dug out consecutive frames to cut his arrears in half at 7-5.
Day moved further clear at 8-5, but McGill continued to reel him in. Three frames on the bounce saw him draw level at 8-8. The former Indian Open Champion McGill then fired in a break of 60 to move one from victory, before an extraordinary 18th frame.
It came down to the pink and black, with both players making glaring errors under extreme pressure. Day spurned an opportunity to force a decider when he missed the pink off the spot. The Welshman eventually fluked the second last ball, but with the black glued to the top cushion a safety battle ensued. Ultimately a misjudged shot from Day left the black over the corner and allowed McGill to get over the line and set up a last 16 clash with Ding Junhui.
McGill said: “It’s the World Championship, it’s a tournament worth trying in. You lose most of the matches from the position I was in, 99 percent probably. But you’d lose them all if you gave up and that kind of happened last year. I was playing Stephen Maguire and I was 7-2 down and never settled. I had a bit more fight in me this year and anything can happen.
“I was thinking during the match that my weakness is my potting. I’m good at the safety, but you don’t get any points for safety. My potting is just not good enough and the chances are I’ll get found out in the next game but it’s just good to be still involved.
“Ding is one of the best break builders there has ever been. He’s good at cannons around the black spot, just nudging balls out the way, it’s phenomenal. I’m in for a tough fight but at least I’m in one. I’ll need to pick it up because you can dig in and all that but eventually you have to play some good snooker.”
Day remarked: “It was scrappy. I think Anthony won a couple of frames where his highest break was 25 or something, it wasn’t great really.
“Next season is a long way away. It’s going to be a good month or so before I pick up the cue again, but I’m not really thinking about it now. I’m just going to have a bit of a break, and go again at the start of next season.”
On the other table, the second round got underway as Mark Allen took a 5-3 lead over Joe Perry.
World number 22 Perry knocked out defending champion Mark Selby in the first round and he started well today, taking the opening frame with a top break of 50.
Masters champion Allen hit back to win three in a row with runs of 94, 99 and 67. Perry’s break of 73 made it 3-2, then Allen also made a 73 to take frame six, before Perry nicked the seventh by clearing from yellow to black to halve his deficit.
The last frame of the session came down to the final pink. World number 16 Allen attempted a cross double and missed one centre pocket, but the pink rolled across the table and dropped into the opposite centre to give him a two-frame lead. They return for eight more frames on Friday at 10am, then play to a finish on Friday from 7pm, with first to 13 frames to go through to the quarter-finals.