Stephen Maguire booked his place in the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship with a borrowed cue after withstanding a fightback from Zhao Xintong in Sheffield.
The 41-year-old Scot resumed the final session of their match two frames from victory but lost four of the first five on Saturday before a break of 59 saw him seal a 13-9 win over the Chinese seventh seed.
Maguire, a two-time semi-finalist who has plummeted to 40 in the current world rankings, revealed he took drastic measures after being distinctly unimpressed with his form during a gruelling first-round win over Shaun Murphy.
Stephen Maguire defeats Zhao Xintong 13-9 to reach the quarter finals of the @Betfred World Championship.
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) April 23, 2022
Maguire, who is guaranteed at least £50,000 by reaching the last eight, said: “When I played Shaun I was rubbish and Shaun was even worse, so I went back up to Glasgow and made my mind up that I wasn’t coming back with that cue because I felt like I had no chance.
“I borrowed my mate’s cue and had a couple of days of practice with it and liked it, and it has seemed to pay off. I’ll ask my mate how much he wants for it – hopefully not a lot.”
Zhao had threatened to launch a stirring comeback after making a good start to their final session, and could have heaped more pressure on Maguire in the 22nd frame, only for a missed pink to the middle to effectively end his chances.
“I think I can learn from this experience and next year I will be better,” said Zhao, for whom defeat rounds off a breakthrough season that saw him clinch the UK and German Masters crowns. “I have confidence that one day I will win this tournament.”
Defending champion Mark Selby faces a battle to cling onto his Crucible crown as he trailed Yan Bingtao 9-7 heading into Saturday evening’s concluding session of their second-round match.
Yan, the 22-year-old Masters champion, threatened to out-muscle his opponent by taking the first three frames – including an opening century – to establish a 7-4 lead.
Selby responded with a break of 132 and came from behind to steal a pivotal 14th frame when Yan had looked on the brink of extending his lead to 9-5.
Another century from Selby reduced the deficit to a single frame but Yan proved up for the challenge, winning a lengthy safety battle in the final frame of the session to ensure a slender advantage.