Try telling Anthony McGill there’s no pressure without a crowd after his white-knuckle first round win over Jack Lisowski at the World Snooker Championship, writes Tom Harle.
Fans were only allowed in for the opening day of action and missed out on a Crucible classic as the Glaswegian edged to a 10-9 victory.
McGill, who had to negotiate qualifiers to make the main draw, sprung an upset on the world No.13 and while there were no oohs and aahs his heart was certainly racing.
“I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be going into it - Jack felt the same and it’s probably because there wasn’t a crowd,” said the 29-year-old.
“When it gets down to 9-9, it felt like there was a hell of a lot of pressure and a lot to play for.
“When you’ve missed chances in the deciding frame and it comes down to two balls, your heart is in your mouth and I don’t know what happened with the final blue.
“It’s a massive win for me. It’s a sign that what I’m doing in practice is worth it.
“You don’t play just to qualify and get beaten by a seed, you come to beat the seeds and get better results.
“The last couple of years I haven’t done anything but this is a big step in the right direction.”
The opening session was an attritional affair, with neither player making a half-century break in the first five frames with McGill taking a slender 3-2 lead.
The Scot compiled 87 and then 64 to take a 5-4 lead away from a forgettable opening salvo but the evening’s entertainment was anything but.
McGill’s play in the evening session was typified by aggression and despite 51 failing to win him the 15th frame, Lisowski missed a long red and McGill stepped in to make it 9-6.
The Englishman was backed into a corner and came out firing, winning the next three frames including a century in the 17th to tie it again 9-9.
Wow... what an end.— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) August 3, 2020
Anthony McGill is through to the second round of the @Betfred World Championship after a decider that went down to the wire.
Northern Ireland or Wales up next for the Scotsman #ilovesnooker pic.twitter.com/HicgZiP7Qm
The final frame balanced on a knife-edge and both players missed chances, McGill missing a straight yellow and Lisowski committing four fouls on a simple escape from a snooker.
But McGill, who reached the Crucible quarter-finals in 2015, drained a dramatic final blue to claim the spoils.
With either fourth seed Mark Allen or Welshman Jamie Clarke awaiting in the second round, McGill reckons that clutch result in a late night epic can only serve him well.
“Having a win like that in the bank can help you battle harder,” he said.
“Coming into the next round, if it gets close I’ve got that experience to think about, knowing that you can come through games like that.
“At these stages it’s just about getting over the line in whatever way it comes.
“It hasn’t been easy over the last few years. I’m not into all the mental stuff so it’s been a case of practicing harder.”
Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July – 16th August with analysis from Jimmy White.