Ding Junhui suffered one of the most amazing gaffes in Crucible history yesterday, but bounced back to clinch his place in the last 16 of the Betfred World Championship.
The 28-year-old from China, who has lived in Sheffield for over a decade, looked set for a maximum 147 clearance in his first-round match with Mark Davis.
He had potted 12 reds and 12 blacks, only to run slightly out of position on the 13th red.
Ding potted the red, but instead of rolling down for the black, he screwed back for the blue, causing astonishment inside the Sheffield theatre.
He attempted an audacious cut on the black, but missed, and at least could see the funny side –despite missing out on a £30,000 bonus – as he won the frame to cut the deficit to 5-4.
After trailing 4-0 in Monday’s first session, Ding finally showed some impressive snooker as he chalked up a 10-7 win.
After a poor season in which Ding has failed to reach a ranking final – he won five major ranking titles last term – it was a welcome return to form.
The world No 3, who will face four-times Crucible champion John Higgins in the second round, revealed only the noise from the audience alerted him to his error.
“I didn’t even know about the 147,” said Ding. “I potted the red and heard the noises from the crowd and I realised what I had done.
“The blue was on its spot and I was just trying to make a century, I wasn’t even thinking about making the 147.
“I was just trying to keep going and potting the balls because I needed to get back in the match. I was just trying to keep scoring heavily, making big breaks and putting him under pressure.
“The start of the match was not very good but I think I grew into it and played okay.
“I was just thinking about enjoying the World Championship, in the same way that the fans enjoy being able to watch it.
“When it was 6-6 he had a good chance to win the frame, but he got a kick and ended up snookering himself. I got a bit lucky.
“John Higgins is an old friend of mine and I’ve played him many, many times. I lost the first five times we played but I learned a lot from him and I’ve got more confidence to play him now.
“I need to just stay focused and play the right shots in the match, then I have a chance.”
Sussex’s Davis said: “It’s disappointing because 4-0 was a good lead, but I didn’t take advantage (on Monday) when Ding was struggling.
“I felt really good the whole match, I kept feeling if I could get a chance I could score, but I just kept losing position all the time for one reason or the other.
“Ding’s shot on the 147 was a strange one because it was a really good chance.
“I just said to him ‘you must have too much money mate, you’re not even going for them any more’.”
Ding would have pocketed £20,000 for a 147 prize, plus £10,000 for the tournament’s highest break if no other player matched it.
Ali Carter insists he is a Crucible contender despite his battle against lung cancer.
The Chelmsford potter only returned to playing on the Tour in November after a successful battle against a cancerous tumour on his lung, which was diagnosed last May. His world ranking of 13 was frozen while he battled his illness, meaning he did not have to qualify for the Crucible this year, and Carter has found it tough on his return, winning just five games in snooker’s ranking events.
But after easing through his first-round match with a 10-5 win over Alan McManus, during which he received a warm welcome from fans in Sheffield, the two-time Crucible finalist has his sights on going one better than 2008 and 2012.
“I didn’t feel as if I played great, but I competed in all departments and won quite convincingly in the end,” said Carter.
“I have some good memories here – the only thing I have left to do is win it, and that’s what I’m here to do.
“This event is unique. Alan has been playing all season and he’s match sharp, whereas I’ve hardly played, but here it’s a different pressure and it’s where I enjoy playing the most.
“It’s brilliant to be back playing here, but I was just focused on winning the match.
“I didn’t want to get a great reception and then play like an idiot and go home,” added Carter, who will face Neil Robertson in the last 16.