ANTHONY McGill once again proved he is at home on the biggest stage as he made a promising start to his World Snooker Championship clash with Mark Selby in Sheffield.
The Glaswegian potter is level at 4-4 with defending champion Selby in their second-round encounter ahead of the match’s resumption this morning.
McGill led 2-0 and looked poised to end the session 5-3 to the good but missed the final black to gift Selby frame eight.
The Scot has long been considered one of snooker’s brightest prospects, but it was his dramatic 10-9 victory over fellow Scot Stephen Maguire in the first round that really announced him to the snooker world.
The 24-year-old admitted afterwards that playing against the reigning champion in a best-of-25 match in round two was a dream draw and he made an ideal start at the Crucible Theatre as breaks of 30 and 63 gave him a 2-0 lead.
The youngster showed no signs of being overawed by the occasion and his apparent comfort on the big stage is a major reason why five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan has tipped him to be a future winner at the Crucible.
But Selby beat O’Sullivan 18-14 to lift the trophy for the first time in 2014 and the Englishman demonstrated his considerable grit to win three frames on the trot – building a 3-2 advantage.
The world No 1 hit a half-century in each of those and looked set to establish a healthy lead over the man ranked 31 places below him.
But McGill stopped the rot with a fluent run of 74 before posting a contribution of 73 to move ahead, 4-3. Selby’s 54 then put him in pole position in the last frame of the session, but the Scot fought back, leaving himself needing just the final black to force a re-spot.
But his attempted pot wobbled in the jaws of the pocket, allowing the 31-year-old to steal in and level things up at four frames apiece.
The pair resume at 10am this morning before playing to a finish at 7pm this evening in what promises to be an enthralling day of snooker.
Meanwhile, McGill’s fellow Scot John Higgins made a strong start to his last 16 encounter with Ding Junhui.
The four-time champion did not score particularly heavily in the evening session, a break of 73 being his highest in the opening five frames, but he still led the Chinese superstar 5-2.
Ding’s 135 in frame three showed what he is capable of and Wishaw potter Higgins still has plenty of work to do when the pair resume at 2:30pm today.
Englishman Shaun Murphy claims the desire to win a second World Championship burns stronger than ever after he cruised past Finnish qualifier Robin Hull 10-3.
Murphy, the 2005 champion, posted a run of 111 to seal the triumph and, as he prepares to face Joe Perry in round two, he admits coming to the Crucible still gives him chills.
“I’ve been playing here for 13 years but it’s amazing how it still gives you that buzz,” explained Murphy. “When I won my first world title, I definitely didn’t think I would be here ten years later not having won a second one.
“There were a few years in the doldrums finding out who I was and how to play snooker again but I’m somewhere near my best again.”
Bristol cueman Judd Trump booked a second-round encounter with Marco Fu by beating Stuart Carrington 10-6.
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