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Gutsy Glaswegian Anthony McGill says his clutch deciding-frame 85 clearance to end six-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan’s hopes of Crucible history felt ‘easy’, writes Will Jennings.
But the world No.16 revelled in the finest victory of his career to date after banishing last year’s semi-final heartbreak to book his place in the last eight.
McGill pulled off the result of the World Championship so far after stunning defending champion O’Sullivan in a 13-12 thriller under the Friday night lights.
The Rocket was chasing Stephen Hendry’s record of seven Sheffield titles but McGill, who saw a 10-6 lead reeled in during the evening session, held himself together as consecutive breaks of 136 and 85 hauled him over the line.
McGill looked as cool as a cucumber as he waltzed around the baize in the decider and admits it felt like any other frame as he edged a Crucible classic.
The 30-year-old, who lost a 17-16 epic against Kyren Wilson in last year’s semi-finals, said: “It actually felt pretty easy.
“I didn’t really see it as a decider – I just wanted to keep playing snooker. I just loved it. I just had a mindset that there was going to be another frame afterwards. Then I got to the green and I thought: ‘this is actually a decider,’ and I got over the line.
“You put a lot of effort in and it means so much to win matches like that.
“Regardless of what happened last year or in any other tournament, I’ve just beaten the defending world champion. I’m over the moon, regardless of what happened last year.
“For a player to lose a world semi-final in that fashion, if you can come back from that you’ve obviously got something upstairs. All these experiences and defeats certainly help me get better as a player.
“It’s definitely my best win. Ronnie really wanted it this week – there’s no doubt about that. He was targeting that seventh title.
“It wasn’t a Ronnie who was disinterested or couldn’t be bothered like we’ve seen in the past – it was a Ronnie that was really trying and I still managed to beat him. It’s a great achievement.”
McGill went through a rollercoaster of baize emotions on Friday but showed experience beyond his years to battle over the line.
O’Sullivan had raced into a 4-1 first session lead the day before but a brutal Friday morning assault from McGill opened up a precious 8-4 advantage.
The Scot went into the final evening session with a 10-6 lead but the Rocket, a 37-time ranking event winner, came out swinging in a ruthless Friday night onslaught.
He reeled off five consecutive frames to turn the tables before McGill then levelled to take the game to the wire.
O’Sullivan edged the 23rd to put him one frame from victory but a brilliant, bold 136 from McGill took the heart-thumping contest to a final frame shootout.
And the Glaswegian held his nerve to strike that gutsy 85 to end the Rocket’s tilt at history and book his third Crucible quarter-final.
McGill will meet either 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham or world No.69 Jamie Jones in the last eight next week.
And the Scot, competing in his seventh consecutive World Championship, added: “I’ll just practice and try and prepare for the next match.
“I don’t want to just win that, beat Ronnie and then lose in the next round. I want to win the next match as well, so I’ll be preparing for that.”
Watch the World Snooker Championship live on Eurosport and Eurosport app from April 17- May 3