Jack Lisowski was devastated to fall a few balls short of a stirring Crucible comeback, beaten 10-9 by Anthony McGill in a first round thriller at the World Snooker Championship, writes Tom Harle.
The Cheltenham cueman looked doomed to a first-hurdle exit for the second year running when his Scottish opponent came out firing in the evening session, taking a 9-6 lead.
Lisowski battled back and won three straight frames but it wasn’t enough, McGill sinking a decisive blue to end a white-knuckle final frame in his favour.
“He potted a great blue at the end and it was a great game” said Lisowski.
“I’m gutted with the result but I think I did well to come back because I was down and out.
“I thought I was going to win the last frame. I felt I had the momentum in the game having won a few frames on the bounce.
“We had each other snookered a few times and he had me snookered on the blue.
“It’s a shame because it’s the biggest tournament in the world but I’ll be alright.”
The opening session was an attritional affair, with neither player making a half-century break in the first five frames and Lisowski taking a slender 3-2 lead.
Glaswegian McGill compiled 87 and then 64 to take a 5-4 lead away from a forgettable opening salvo but the evening’s entertainment was anything but.
Both players’ visits to the table regained ruthlessness with Lisowski’s 90 break to tie it up at 5-5 taking the small matter of 256 seconds.
McGill, who reached the quarter-final at the Crucible in 2015, responded with 70 as the first four frames were split and he broke for the mid-session interval 7-6 up.
McGill’s play in the evening session was typified by aggression and despite 51 failing to win him the frame, Lisowski missed a long red and fell 9-6 behind.
The Englishman was backed into a corner and came out firing, winning the next three frames including a century in the 17th to tie it again 9-9.
The final frame balanced on a knife-edge and both players missed chances, Lisowski committing four fouls on a simple escape from a snooker as McGill produced at the last.
Lisowski reflected on an inconsistent season and felt that a short two-month break is a blessing given the nature of his Crucible exit.
“I changed my cue five times this season, I messed that up and I’ve been in and out of form,” said Lisowski, whose best result was reaching the final at the Scottish Open.
“There have been highs and lows and it’s been a weird one with the Coronavirus situation. Lockdown was boring and difficult for everyone.
“The season should have ended months ago but it’s good in a way, there’s no time to sulk or dwell on this.”
Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July – 16th August with analysis from Jimmy White.