Stephen Maguire says he has almost given up hope of becoming world champion after he blew a four-frame lead against Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Betfred World Championship.
The Scot is considered one of the most talented players in the game but he has not been able to translate that into major trophies. And he will have to wait at least a year for another crack at World Championship glory after O’Sullivan came from 4-0 and 6-3 down to win 10-7 at the Crucible Theatre.
Maguire has now fallen out of the top 16 and had to qualify for the main draw but he started like a train against an out-of-sorts O’Sullivan in the first session. However, his spark faded on the second day as O’Sullivan raised his game to power to victory – and Maguire admits there is nothing he can do when the top players perform at their best.
“I have accepted now that I will be qualifying here,” he said. “I might get lucky one year and be a seed, but the odds are I will be floating about the top 32 for the next few years without breaking into the top 16. I have to get on with it and accept the fact these boys are a step better than me really. It is hard but it is accepted.
“I think they have improved whereas I have just stayed the same. I don’t think I have declined, I just think these boys play the game now that when they play well they are awesome and I don’t have that.
“I need the top players to have an off day and me to be really good to go deep in a tournament.”
O’Sullivan punished Maguire’s mistakes yesterday but the 37-year-old had his chances – he just could not take them. And when O’Sullivan won the first three frames of the day to level at 6-6, there was a sense of inevitability about the result.
“The hunger is there, I will fight to the death. I just have to look at the results, there is no finals from me,” Maguire added. “I still enjoy it. I will go home, regroup and then go again. I think it is a fair result, I think I only had the lead overnight because he was so bad in the first session.
“I was under no illusions that I was playing well enough to be 6-3 up, so I was not surprised when he came out and improved – I knew he would.”
Elsewhere, former champion Graeme Dott surrendered a 6-3 lead in his first-round match with Ali Carter, going down 10-8.
Dott, who lifted the title in 2006, was seemingly in control at the halfway stage but he failed to kick on and Carter battled through to a second-round match against O’Sullivan.
“I don’t think it was a massive shock, I was rubbish all the way through,” Dott said.
“This is the first time he has beaten me in a big tournament but he deserved it. He played better than I did all the way through.”
l Watch the snooker World Championship live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with Colin Murray and analysis from Ronnie O’Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.