John Higgins became the fourth seed to be eliminated in the opening round of the World Championship after being dumped 10-7 by fellow Scotsman Alan McManus this morning.
Resuming 6-3 ahead after the first session, McManus showed few signs on nerves as he raced to a 9-4 advantage at the last mid-session interval.
Four-time champion Higgins was completely out of sorts but the pause in play seemed to change his mentality as he came out firing to win three on the bounce with a flurry of big breaks.
By this stage, McManus had already missed a couple of major opportunities to kill the tie off and appeared set to see his lead cut to just one frame when Higgins got in again near the conclusion of the 16th frame.
However, the 38 year-old overcut a thin blue to the middle and, with only yellow to blue required, McManus completed his first win at the Crucible in nine years.
Ironically, that triumph was against Ken Doherty in the second round in 2005 and it is the Irishman who will be McManus’ next opponent at the same stage this year.
Neither player would have began their first round clashes as favourites but now the duo will both have eyes set on a potential quarter-final berth.
As they both will be well aware, McManus having made two semi-finals in his career and Doherty the 1997 champion, if you can get yourself in position at the business end of the tournament then anything is possible.
The bottom half is still riddled with the most danger with the likes of Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, Judd Trump and Mark Allen still in the draw but, as ‘Angles’ stressed in his post-match press conference, the old guard will remain hard to beat.
It would have seemed a pretty far-fetched concept to imagine Doherty or McManus in the last eight of the Worlds a number of months ago, particularly the former given the Dubliner’s awful form of late.
Yet, Doherty admitted prior to the tournament that he was hoping for a run akin to that of Steve Davis in 2010.
Now, the opportunity is there for the 44 year-old three-time finalist to do just that.