Stephen Maguire sealed one of the comebacks of the ages in the first round of the Masters against Neil Robertson, but the Glaswegian believes he did not deserve victory.
Trailing 4-0 to the Australian at the mid-session interval, and 5-1 in the best-of-six tie, the 38-year-old’s fate looked sealed, but a mixture of grit, determination, and some fine potting forced an improbable 6-5 triumph.
Seeming somewhat shellshocked after the turnaround - his first at Alexandra Palace since 2015 - the Maverick admitted that the result was as much down to Robertson’s implosion as his own class.
“I had a lot of help from Neil,” he said.
“A couple of frames at 5-1, he was on 50, on 40 and he never finished it off. I think the game changed.
“He started missing a couple that he wasn’t missing before the interval and I just hung in there. It’s boring, but it’s one frame at a time.
“I thought the big frame was 2-0 and I missed an easy black and bang, he makes another break, 4-0. I’m thinking ‘that’s it’, just try and put pressure on him somehow.
“I’ve been 4-0 up and people have come back, and it’s not nice.
“I obviously played together towards the end of the match, which counts, but I wasn’t good.
“Overall, I thought Neil was the better player by far - safety-wise, long potting, break-building - but I’ll take the win.
“I don’t play until Friday now, so I will need to hit the practice table, because I’ll need to play better.
“It’s a nice way to end that rut, but I’ve missed a couple of years. It’s a big tournament, good arena; it’s just nice to be involved.”
Levelling things at 5-5 after a fabulous 81 break, it was Robertson who was first into the pack, and though things looked set for him to fend off Maguire, the Thunder from Down Under missed a delicate black to let his opponent back to the table.
And from there, Maguire made no mistake, clattering in an epic green on the way to a fearless break that sent Robertson home at the first hurdle in north London for first time since 2010.
Potting what would prove to be a deciding brown, Maguire unleashed a hefty fist-pump, to the delight of the crowd, but the embarrassment of the man himself.
“I gave it the first - that’s a bit embarrassing, I don’t like that. It means a lot, you don’t get those comebacks very often, so I nearly upercutted myself!
“He missed early (in the 11th frame) and I thought he was lucky because he didn’t leave anything.
“I went for a red, let him in again and thought that was it. I’ve played a few 5-5s and I know stupid things can happen, so thought that if I do get another chance then I’m going to go for everything, just give it a go and made a decent break at the last.”
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