Ronnie O'Sullivan has admitted that he "got out of jail" and deserved to lose to Barry Hawkins in his Tour Championship semi-final match on Saturday.
The Rocket was 9-6 down but launched an incredible comeback against an opponent who showed signs of nerves and he closed in on another big win to follow his quarter-final victory against Judd Trump.
But O'Sullivan believes it would have only been fair if he had been on the losing side, while praising Hawkins for the hard work he has put in on his game.
'Like Federer and Nadal' - O'Sullivan claims there are 'two divisions' in snooker elite
"He deserved to win, really, I feel for Barry because he's been grafting at his game, I know he's been working hard this year," the world champion told ITV4.
"He's been unlucky with a few results. He deserved that victory tonight for the effort he's put in all season. It's a horrible way to lose but hopefully he can respond because he played great today, he was cuing well, he looked confident. He outplayed me really, I just got out of jail."
- O'Sullivan launches incredible comeback to beat Hawkins and set up Robertson final
- 'Really tough' - Robertson defends schedule after storming into final
- White: 'Winning world title could have put me in early grave'
O'Sullivan began his week by complaining about his cue and admitted that he was not happy with his game until he decided to take a more positive approach when staring defeat in the face.
"The cue still needs a bit of work, it still feels really heavy and out of balance. It is what it is," he explained.
"I was just looking for a cue action from start to finish. I felt like I was swinging my arm at everything.
"It felt like my arm didn't belong to my body so I thought I'd found something at 7-5 and thought it'd be great if I could keep this going, but then I didn't get a shot from 7-6 to 9-6.
'It's amazing!' - Hendry on the longevity of O'Sullivan and Higgins
"I thought that as long as I got a chance and was cuing alright, I'd be alright. I just changed my trajectory for how I was attacking the ball. I thought I could be a bit more positive with it and start playing with a bit more confidence."
The Tour Championship is being played at the Celtic Manor resort, away from the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes which for a long time had been the home of snooker behind closed doors.
"It's a lot better than Milton Keynes - Category A prison there," he joked.
"I've seen enough of them over the years! I've spent far too long there. That's a sad gaffe, I didn't enjoy that towards the end. So it's nice to come to a nice resort and the food's good and you can see some greenery and trees.
"It's just a nice place. Milton Keynes is not the best place, but it served its purpose."
'A dangerous thing' - O'Sullivan 'baffled' by 'egos' of snooker next gen
When is the English Open 2021? Dates, schedule, draw, odds