Mark Allen believes a bout of ill health almost cost him a place in the third round of the Betway UK Championship.
The 33-year-old world number seven had booked his spot in the last 64 at the expense of 10-time ranking tournament winner Jimmy White, but found the going much tougher second time around against Welshman Jak Jones.
Having looked on course for a routine win at 5-1 up – with a break of 141 and three half-centuries in tow – Allen was stunned by a miraculous Jones comeback attempt, in which he forced a deciding frame after notching four on the spin.
And after Allen limped over the line to seal his progression at the tournament in which he finished runner-up in 2018, he explained he has been suffering from a cold which he thinks could have impacted his game.
He said: “It’s no excuse but I think it has made a difference because I’d been looking really sharp. It does make your mind wander a bit more than normal.
“I was cruising at 5-1 but I missed an easy red and then from there I didn’t see a ball. He played really good snooker and scored heavily, and limited me to scraps.
“I started to fear the worst because he looked like he was going to score heavy again in the decider. Luckily for me he missed one and left me a chance.
“If I’d have lost that match it would’ve been really hard to take and I probably wouldn’t have slept too well, that's for sure.”
Having survived the scare to keep his name in the mix at the first Triple Crown event of the season, Allen set up a last 32 tie with world number 39 Ben Woollaston.
And as he goes in search of a sixth ranking title, the 2018 Masters champion hopes he can shake off his illness ahead of the next round of action, which he believes which provide another stern test to his mettle.
He said: “This match completely drained me and I’m happy to have a day off now so I can get ready for my next game.
“I know I’ll have to play much better in my next match because Ben has come through two tough games and he’ll be razor sharp.
“But I’ve been practicing really hard and I’ve been playing well in the build up to the tournament, so I’m not reading too much into this performance and I’ll come back ready.”