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‘I had no choice’ -tournament

‘I had no choice’ -tournament


Stephen Maguire has said he had “no choice” but to fetch a new cue from Scotland, but encouraged others not to do the same.

Maguire edged past Shaun Murphy in the first round at the Crucible and, before his match against Zhao Xintong, returned to his home in Scotland to fetch a new cue.

Maguire then stormed into an 11-5 lead over Chinese prodigy Zhao Xintong on Friday, before seeing off a fightback from his opponent to reach the quarter-finals on Saturday.

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And while Maguire said he had “no chance” of winning without the new cue, he admitted it shouldn’t become a habit.

“I had to,” Maguire told Eurosport after his victory. “There were shots out there that I couldn’t go for because I did not know what was happening with the cue.

“That was part of the reason why I had to keep it tight as well and reign it in a little bit. I’m not going to say I’m going to be used to the cue in the next three days because it may take a while. It could have gone either way coming down here with a new cue. Lucky for me I like it.

“It is difficult. I’m not going to lie and say it is okay. It shouldn’t be done. Nobody should do it, but I had no choice. If I didn’t change my cue, I don’t think there was any way I was winning that match so I thought I might as well change something and see what we can find. I’m glad I did. Plan went together!”

Maguire completes victory over Zhao Xintong with new cue at Crucible

With the score at 11-5, a win for Maguire looked a formality on Saturday, but it was anything but as Zhao dug deep.

The Chinese player took three of the opening four frames to stay in the match, before grabbing another after the mid-session interval to halve the deficit.

And while Maguire eventually edged over the finish line, he lamented missed chances to end the match earlier.

“I’ve got myself to blame,” he added. “I should have been on the balls straight away. I had plenty of chances to finish it early. I wasn’t up for it. The lead was too big for me.

“Last night you honestly feel like you can only lose that match. You feel like you’ve won the match. It’s done. But you have to go there and win two more frames. I’d rather have that, but it’s hard.”

Jimmy White has called Zhao the most naturally gifted player since Ronnie O’Sullivan and he is tipped for a huge career in the game.

But Maguire, a veteran of the sport, says his experience helped him to win the match.

“I think it did,” said Maguire. “He goes for his shots, which is great, but it’s first to 13 over three sessions. My thoughts were, I’m going to put him up the baulk cushion and see if he pots them. And if he makes 100s and 90s, I’ll shake his hand and say “well done”, but I thought it would be hard to do it out of that many frames.”

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