Anthony McGill holds on to send Ronnie O’Sullivan crashing out

Defending champion made a stunning comeback before Scot turned it around again

Anthony McGill celebrates victory at the end of his match against Ronnie O’Sullivan on day seven of the World Snooker Championships 2021 at The Crucible. Photo: George Wood/PA Wire

Anthony McGill celebrates victory at the end of his match against Ronnie O’Sullivan on day seven of the World Snooker Championships 2021 at The Crucible. Photo: George Wood/PA Wire

 

Anthony McGill held his nerve to sink Ronnie O’Sullivan in a final frame decider at the Crucible and banish any lingering memories of last year’s semi-final nightmare.

McGill withstood a stunning comeback from the defending champion who turned a 10-5 deficit into an 11-10 lead, only for the Scot to battle back and clinch a place in the World Championship’s last eight with a nerveless 85 clearance.

His 13-12 triumph came in startling contrast to McGill’s previous final-frame decider at the famous venue when he had lost out to Kyren Wilson in arguably the most remarkable frame in the sport’s history.

Out-of-sorts O’Sullivan had been outplayed in the second session by McGill, who won the first four frames of the day and finished a thoroughly composed afternoon session with a 10-6 lead over the defending champion.

Two centuries underpinned a near-nerveless performance from the 30-year-old, while in complete contrast O’Sullivan had laboured, and his decision to employ Mark Williams’ controversial break-off tactic appeared to emphasise just how short he was on ideas.

Consecutive breaks of 47, 126 and 89 took McGill’s remarkable streak to seven frames in succession, and a further 15 consolidated his advantage, but O’Sullivan managed to dredge up the final frame of the session with a quick-fire break of 69, and that would prove a springboard for a not entirely unexpected resurgence.

Not for the first time in his illustrious career, O’Sullivan returned a completely different proposition, digging out a staggering red to the middle despite being badly hampered by the jaws of the top pocket as he reduced his deficit to 10-7.

An equally brilliant green to the middle served up a break of 97 for 10-8, and as McGill began to wilt, O’Sullivan seized the advantage by wresting the next two frames and hauling himself back level in the match.

McGill returned from the mid-session interval clearly intent on trying to take the game to the champion, and despite O’Sullivan regaining the lead largely due to a break of 49, there were encouraging signs that the Scot was stirring.

His attitude paid off in the next when he capitalised on a poor O’Sullivan safety shot with a break of 87 to pull the match back level at 11-11.

After O’Sullivan had nudged back in front, McGill summoned a magnificent 136, his third century of the match, to force the decider.

O’Sullivan got in first with a break of 42 but a missed red left a chance for McGill, who cleared to win the match with an uncharacteristic roar.

Neil Robertson leads Jack Lisowski 9-7 after a high-quality session which saw the pair compile at least one half-century between them in every one of the eight frames they contested on Friday.

And Mark Williams scored two centuries as he overturned an early 3-1 deficit to establish a 5-3 overnight lead against John Higgins.

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