World Snooker Championship 2021 - Anthony McGill rallies to level session with Ronnie O'Sullivan
Anthony McGill came into his match with Ronnie O'Sullivan having never beaten the defending champion. The Scot has a chance of securing his first win over the defending champion after battling back from 4-1 down to level their match at the World Championship at the Crucible in Sheffield on Thursday. The players will return to action on Friday.
Ronnie O’Sullivan has a fight on his hands in the second round of the World Championship, as Anthony McGill rallied from 4-1 down to share the opening session at 4-4.
O'Sullivan looked like he was short of practice against Mark Joyce in his tournament opener, but he had been spotted regularly on the tables leading up to his clash with McGill and the transformation was stark.
Back-to-back centuries were the highlight of an opening session, but McGill kept himself in the hunt as errors crept into the O'Sullivan game after the interval and the Scot won three of the final four frames to leave the match all square.
McGill knocked in an excellent opening red to get underway but it failed to ease him into the match as he made a couple of mistakes and was punished by O'Sullivan. The defending champion potted an excellent red with the rest and later in the frame compiled a fluent 81 to take the opener.
'Fascinating session' - McGill draws level with O'Sullivan
Last year's beaten semi-finalist shrugged off the errors of the first frame to knock in a 52 and although he did not seal the second at the first time of asking, he followed up with a 79 to level the scores and work himself into the match.
O'Sullivan spoke positively about his opponent prior to the match, and that respect was in evidence as he refused a tough black in the third - electing to play a safety and wait for a better opportunity. That chance came shortly afterwards and he was rewarded with a break of 105, his fourth ton of the tournament.
The defending champion was poor in the first session of his opening round against Joyce. It was the polar opposite against McGill, and he went into the first interval with a three-frame lead after stroking in a glorious 138.
'Brilliant' - O'Sullivan storms through 138 break against McGill
There were collectors’ items in the fifth frame: two routine missed blacks from O’Sullivan. McGill failed to take the chances presented to him and the Rocket pounced on an error from the Scot to extend his lead to three frames.
The sixth went McGill’s way, but it was not straightforward. He opened up a sizeable lead only to leave a pink in the jaws. O’Sullivan crafted a chance following a protracted safety battle, but screwed in-off from the final red - an indicator of how well he was timing the ball - and the underdog took the frame to cut the deficit to two frames.
Taking the sixth appeared to act as a release for McGill as he knocked in a break of 97 to cut the gap to one. That does not tell the full story, as McGill was on for a 147 after knocking in 13 reds, but the 13th black stayed in the jaws of the bottom-left pocket.
'Oh, wow' - McGill heartbreak as black doesn't drop on 147 attempt
Errors that were not in evidence before the mid-session interval crept into O’Sullivan’s play. A poor safety in the final frame of the afternoon handed a chance to McGill, who opened up a 40-point lead before running out of position.
O’Sullivan crafted a chance after an amazing escape from a snooker, but he missed once again and McGill stepped in to take the frame and level the session.
Shaun Murphy set up an intriguing second-round clash with Yang Bingtao after rallying from 5-4 down to beat Mark Davis 10-7.
The 2005 world champion had his back against the wall but he went through the gears on Thursday, and a break of 131 in the final frame secured his passage into the second round.