By Simon Kendal-Williams
Ryan Day’s dreams of becoming world snooker champion have been shattered for another year after suffering a Crucible nightmare.
The Welshman looked well set to complete a first-round win over Anthony McGill, having consolidated his 6-3 overnight lead into an 8-5 advantage at the mid-session interval on Thursday.
But as the Scot gradually fought his way back into the match, Day became increasingly edgy – a far cry from the previous evening, which had seen him compile breaks of 141 and a tournament-high 145.
McGill was far from his free-flowing best himself, but still managed to level at 8-8, and the momentum had truly swung his way when he moved ahead for the first time in the contest in the following frame.
A nervy 18th frame saw both players spurn several chances, before 38-year-old Day fluked the final red.
Needing all six colours to send the match into a final-frame decider, the Pontycymmer player held himself together to clear to the blue.
But in trying to gain optimum position on the black, missed a straightforward pink to the corner.
He did manage to pot the pink with his very next shot – courtesy of another fluke – but McGill gained the upper hand in the ensuing safety exchange, and completed a 10-8 victory when Day left the black over a corner pocket.
It was a disappointing end to Day’s most successful season to date.
For so long labelled ‘the best player never to win a ranking event’, he broke his duck by winning both the Riga Masters and Gibraltar Open.
But he cut a frustrated figure after McGill’s impressive comeback.
“It was sloppy, it wasn’t great,” said Day.
“I think Anthony won a couple of frames when his highest break was 25 or something.
“Next season feels a long way away – it’ll be a good month or so before I pick up a cue again.”
McGill – a former quarter-finalist – will take on world number three Ding Junhui in the next round.
In the first of the second-round matches, Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen leads Joe Perry 5-3.