Maguire plays down epic Masters comeback

Stephen Maguire had not won a first-round match at Alexandra Palace since 2015

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.”

Watch the London Masters LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with analysis from Ronnie O'Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.