Stephen Maguire stuns Zhao Xintong with help of new cue to reach World Championship quarter-finals

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Snooker - Dafabet Masters - Alexandra Palace - 11/1/16

Stephen Maguire in action during the first round

Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Peter Cziborra


Stephen Maguire is into the last eight of the of the Betfred World Championship.

Stephen Maguire stunned UK Champion Zhao Xintong with an impressive 13-9 victory to book his place in the World Championship quarter-finals, writes Ben Parsons.

Scotland’s Maguire had to come through gruelling qualifying to reach the Crucible after dropping down to 40 in the world rankings.

But the 41-year-old is making his mark at the Sheffield showpiece as Chinese sensation Xintong became his latest seeded victim following a first-round victory over 2005 champion Shaun Murphy.

Maguire has a famously poor record at the Crucible and was an underdog against breakthrough star Xintong despite his calibre as a six-time ranking event winner.

But the on-song Scot took control with an excellent opening two sessions to lead 6-3 and 11-5, including two fine century breaks.

Battling Zhao reduced the deficit to 12-9 on Saturday morning but a nerveless 58 secured Maguire’s place in the last eight.

Maguire drew on all of his experience to overcome Xintong, who still has just one match victory at the sport’s blue-riband event.

“I kept it tight,” Maguire said.

“I’m not going to outpot Zhao and I knew that from start to finish.

“I kept him in the long grass and hoped the big, long, fancy shots didn’t go in.

“I had a game plan at the start of the match and it unfolded perfectly for me.

“He’s never experienced a first to 13 and I had all these things. The Crucible is a horrible place when the other guy is beating you up and keeping you out."

Maguire took the unusual decision to change cues mid-tournament as he returned home before his last 16 contest.

The Glaswegian scraped through against Murphy and a lack of confidence in his game prompted the switch.

“I made up my mind I wasn’t coming down with that cue because I felt like I had no chance in the second round,” he added.

“I borrowed my mate’s cue and liked it and it seemed like a good move.

“I’ve asked my mate how much he wants for it so hopefully I can afford it and keep that one!”

Ronnie O’Sullivan is the probable quarter-final opponent for Maguire after the Rocket took an almost unassailable 12-4 overnight lead against Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen.

Six-time champion O'Sullivan needs one frame against the Antrim potter to set up a last eight clash against Maguire.

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