Four-time semi-finalist Stephen Maguire slammed his Masters exit as ‘pathetic’, after crashing out at the last-eight stage to tournament debutant David Gilbert 6-2.
The 38-year-old had arrived at the second Triple Crown event of the season hoping to go one better than his impressive showing at the UK Championship in December, where he was cruelly undone 10-6 by Ding Junhui in the final.
And the Scotsman had shown evidence of steely determination in his first round win over 2010 world champion Neil Robertson at Alexandra Palace, recovering a 5-1 deficit to prevail 6-5 and set up a quarter-final tie with Gilbert.
But following a comprehensive defeat to the world No.11, Maguire cut a frustrated figure, admitting he never found his rhythm in the tie, and indeed the tournament as a whole.
“I can’t handle the pressure - that’s what it is,” he said. “I’m pleased for Dave but it got to the stage that when I was in the balls I wasn’t confident I was going to do anything.
“Dave raced into a 3-0 lead but I wasn’t worried at that point. It was the frame that took him to 4-1 up when I knew it was over and at that point I just wanted to get out of there.
“That’s the worst feeling in the world. I had no touch, no nothing, and it’s so frustrating.
“It was a good comeback against Neil but I didn’t play well against him - he let me off the hook. I wish he hadn’t now because I’ve just put in a performance as poor as that.”
Gilbert set the tone for a one-sided affair with an opening-frame break of 144, and duly extended his advantage with consecutive half-centuries in the second and third.
Maguire rallied in the fourth to go into the mid-session interval with an element of momentum in tow, but after Gilbert edged the fifth frame 58-57, he went on to build a healthy 5-1 lead and looked worthy of the win.
The Glasgow potter offered a glimmer of hope with a break of 94 to take frame seven, but Gilbert coolly closed the match out with an impressive 77 in the last.
And while obviously disappointed with his own performance, Maguire spared a moment to acknowledge the impressive nature with which Gilbert booked his place in the semi-finals on his first Masters appearance.
He said: “I’m not playing in the next couple of tournaments so I’m going to enjoy a bit of time off now. I’ll put the cue away for a bit but then it’ll be back to work and hopefully I can come back firing.
“I’m really pleased for Dave and while I’m disappointed, it’s great to see him in the semi-finals. Fair play to him.
“I hope he can go on and win it because I’ve got a lot of time for him. He’s a nice guy and it’d be nice to see him go on and lift the trophy.”
Watch the London Masters LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with analysis from Ronnie O'Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.