The 45-year-old’s remarkable run to the semi-finals – becoming the oldest man since 1985 to reach the last four at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre – was finally ended by Ding Junhui, who triumphed 17-11.
The Chinese superstar made seven centuries in the match, the most anyone has made in one clash at the Crucible, as he converted a 14-10 overnight lead and booked his place in a first World Championship final.
The Glaswegian’s late-career renaissance in reaching the semi-finals for the first time since 1993 captured the imagination of the public but he was left to rue missed opportunities stopping him making it all the way.
“I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t take all my chances because I felt good and I thought I was really going to give him a game,” said McManus.
“Unfortunately it just didn’t come to pass. But the best man won and you’ve got to face that. The scoring that Ding produced was up there with anything that’s ever been seen at the Crucible.
“I’m a bit biased because he just gave me a lesson but he has to be the favourite for the final now and I think the only man who can stop him winning is himself.”
The final two frames of Friday evening’s third session – where McManus had chances but Ding went from 12-10 ahead to 14-10 – ultimately proved pivotal.
“Even at 14-10 down I still fancied it big time because it sounds like a big lead but if you forget the actual numbers and win the mini-sessions 3-1 and 3-1 then it’s 16-16 which isn’t beyond the realms of possibility,” said McManus. “If I had put enough pressure on him and got within striking distance it would have been interesting.
“But overall I didn’t take my chances and Ding did and that’s the reason he won.”
After climbing back into the world’s top 20 with his displays in Sheffield, McManus is keen to keep his revival going.
“Who knows if I can sustain these performances next season but I’ll certainly put the work in,” he added.
l Watch the World Championship live on Eurosport, with Colin Murray and analysis from Jimmy White and Ronnie O’Sullivan.