Stephen Maguire lost in the first round at the Crucible for the fourth year in a row as Alan McManus scored a 10-7 victory at the Betfred World Championship.
Veteran McManus, age 45, is making his 20th appearance at the Crucible and is through to the last 16 for the 15th time. He is the third qualifier this year, out of four matches so far, to progress to the second round in Sheffield. The Glaswegian will now meet Ali Carter for a place in the quarter-finals. This is the first time this season that McManus has reached the last 16 of a ranking event.
Five-time ranking event winner Maguire has had a poor season by his own standards and is now certain to drop out of the world’s top 16. He did well to retain a place in the elite by reaching the semi-finals of the China Open to ensure an automatic spot at the Crucible, but Sheffield has yielded nothing but frustration for Maguire in recent years. McManus now joins Dechawat Poomjaeng, Ryan Day and Anthony McGill on the list of players to have beaten Maguire in the opening round in consecutive years.
McManus led 6-3 overnight and took the first frame today to extend his lead. Maguire battled back by taking three frames in a row with top breaks of 58 and 97 to close to 7-6 at the interval. But McManus regrouped and took the next two with 65 and 77.
Maguire got the better of the 16th frame, and had first chance in the 17th, but when he missed a tough brown to a centre pocket, he let McManus in for a run of 63 which proved decisive.
“It’s a good win for me,” McManus said. “It was good to get over the line because at one stage I was losing it out there and I lost some confidence, but fortunately the interval came and I found something.
“I’ve got a fair bit of experience here and in the end I needed that to come through. Stephen has had a bit of a strange time because he’s been in the top 16 for so long, and being out of it briefly as he was, that’s unfamiliar territory for him and maybe it’s been on his mind.
“He was struggling and only showing little glimpses of form so I thought this is a real good chance and I should be taking advantage.
“It’ll be nice to play Ali again, this time over three sessions too, and it’s two qualifiers playing each other, if you want to call it that. Ali should definitely be a top 16 player without any doubt, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Maguire said: “Alan played better so he deserved to win. I just never showed up over the two days. I played better in the first four frames today but it was still taking me two or three chances to win a frame. Right from the word go I was just not good enough.
“I actually didn’t feel anything, it’s terrible and embarrassing that you can’t get up for a match at the World Championship, especially having been lucky enough to qualify for it. I was flat out there. When I qualified at the China Open I was over the moon so how can you possibly go out there like you don’t care? There’s something wrong somewhere.
“I got a buzz in China to get here, and then I get here I don’t get a buzz. I don’t know, sports people are not right in the head.”