If finding a way to win when you should have lost is the sign of a champion, then you might as well write Anthony McGill’s name on this year’s Dafabet English Open trophy now.
So poorly did the Glaswegian play in his first-round victory over Michael Holt yesterday that he described it as a “bonus win” – overcoming a rare bout of nerves before edging to a 4-3 triumph in Barnsley.
Of course, McGill is his own harshest critic and most players would probably be content with reaching round two in any fashion, especially with a performance that included a break of 72 in the second frame.
The 26-year-old has proved his class time and time again and has demonstrated an enviable consistency in the early part of this season – reaching the final of the Indian Open, as well as quarter-finals at the Riga Masters, World Open and European Masters.
So he could be forgiven for an off-day, especially when it still resulted in victory, although the man himself is still scratching his head at exactly how he managed to emerge triumphant.
“That’s just a bonus win because the way I played, I should have lost,” said the world No 16.
“It was so bad! I was so nervous from the first shot to the last shot and I’m not normally nervous, so I don’t know why that was.
“He looked nervous as well but I got to four first, so that’s what counts.
“I was basically just lucky that I won. If Michael had stepped up he would have beaten me easily and if I had stepped up, I would have done the same. Snooker is a game where there has to be a winner but it doesn’t mean you have to be any good. I can’t take anything from that really.
“I should have finished the match before I did because I missed an easy chance to go 3-0 up and I missed another easy one to go 4-2 but I couldn’t see either of us winning the decider in one visit.
“So I thought ‘I’m probably going to get a couple of chances’ and it was basically a toss of a coin as to who was going to win.”
A second-round contest against either Lyu Haotian or Allan Taylor – neither of whom is ranked inside the world’s top 85 – awaits tomorrow, when McGill will be a heavy favourite.
You wouldn’t back against him having a deep run at the Metrodome Leisure Complex this week, although he believes his impressive results will come to a grinding halt sooner or later.
He added: “I have been playing pretty well but you can’t keep getting to the latter stages of tournaments – you’re going to stumble eventually.”
There was less success for the two other Scots in action in the afternoon session, however, as both Chris Totten and Eden Sharav crashed out.
Eighteen-year-old Wishaw cueman Totten – who recorded an incredible victory over world No 8 Neil Robertson in the Shanghai Masters qualifiers last week – went down 4-3 to Northern Irish veteran Joe Swail.
Totten led 3-2, but the man 30 years his senior produced a typically gritty comeback to win the final two frames.
Meanwhile, Sharav lost 4-0 to Welshman Matthew Stevens, as the 2003 UK Championship winner opened up with breaks of 132 and 66 and then kept his foot on the accelerator to knock the Scotsman out.
The result means the 25-year-old Sharav is yet to go beyond the first round of any ranking event this season.
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