Last year’s beaten semi-finalist Anthony McGill pulled away from 4-4 to beat Ricky Walden 10-5 in the first round of the Betfred World Championship, setting up a match with Crucible king Ronnie O’Sullivan.
McGill seems to thrive on the Sheffield atmosphere and has a fine record at the venue, having reached the quarter-finals on his debut in 2015, and the semis last year, where he was narrowly beaten 17-16 by Kyren Wilson. After a quiet season, in which he has not gone beyond the last 16 of a ranking event, the Scot hopes for a strong finish on the big stage.
He will face O’Sullivan on Thursday and Friday, in their first meeting at the Crucible. McGill has lost all six of their previous matches, but has the all-round game and temperament to give his illustrious opponent a real test.
World number 16 McGill had a slender 5-4 lead after the first session against Walden then pulled away tonight with breaks of 83 and 130 to go 7-4 ahead. Walden pulled one back with a 98, but McGill took the next two with a top run of 69 for 9-5.
In frame 15, Walden had a chance to clear from 59-0 down, but ran out of position on the last red. McGill eventually potted green and brown to seal victory.
“I feel really good about myself when I play good snooker, and I did that today,” said McGill. “It might be the best I have played here. I have not been getting results this season, though my performances have been better than my results. That’s the way it goes sometimes, then you just have to stick with it and be patient and hopefully it will turn. That was a cracking win because Ricky is quality, I rate him so highly. To beat him 10-5, I’m delighted.
“I love it here, I grew up watching it. Even now at 30 years old, I’m a grown up man, but there is part of me that still feels like a kid out there. It’s the best place ever. There are not that many players who get the chance to play here.
“Each World Championship from now on, my sights will be set on at least making the one-table set up now that I have done it before. Playing Ronnie at the Crucible, how could you not be excited about that? I’ll try my best.”