Scottish snooker star Anthony McGill blew a big sigh of relief after edging his way into the Betfred World Championship semi-finals for the first time following a tense battle with Kurt Maflin in Sheffield.
The 29-year-old secured a first-ever Triple Crown last four appearance with a nervy 13-10 victory over his Norwegian opponent, having led 7-1 earlier in the match.
With his opening two matches of the tournament having gone down to the wire against Jack Lisowski and Jamie Clarke, McGill looked set for a less stressful journey into the next round, before Maflin fought back valiantly to 9-6, 11-8 and 12-10.
And despite admitting he needs to improve if he is to ultimately go on to become the first Scottish world champion since John Higgins in 2011, world No.39 McGill couldn’t hide his pride after securing his best-ever Crucible finish.
“I’m delighted to have done it but I am hugely relieved,” he said. “At 12-10 it was starting to feel like the toss of a coin.
“I didn’t really do anything wrong at 12-9 - Kurt just made an unbelievable pot - and I was in shock, thinking it might be the start of the end. Luckily I managed to get the last one and I’m really pleased.
“I was surprised with how well I started the game because I was really poor in the round before and Kurt had been amazing. I was really tired on the first morning and I think to be honest if he’d hit the heights he did against John earlier on in this match he’d have been the one going through.
“I’m very proud to be in the world semi-finals but I would like to be playing better. I’m always critical of myself and I can rarely see the good parts, but having said that I’d pick playing badly and winning over the alternative.”
Having already played so much snooker, McGill admitted he could face the challenge of mental exhaustion ahead of a best-of-33-frames tie with Englishman Kyren Wilson with a place in the competition’s showpiece at stake.
The world No.8 defeated defending champion Judd Trump to seal his semi-final place, and McGill insisted he can’t wait to take on a player who he has come up against since they were both in the junior ranks.
He said: “I’ve played a lot of snooker and come through it, but this is the biggest tournament so if you’re going to show the best of your character this is the place to do it.
“It’s going to be tough against Kyren, he’s beaten Judd and he’s playing really well. It’s going to be a hard game but I’ll make it as hard as possible for him, too.
“I don’t really know Kyren that well away from the table but I’ve always thought that he seems to be a pretty level-headed guy and I remember his mum and dad from the junior tournaments.
“He’s done really well for himself and it’s always good to see guys you’ve played with make a really good life for themselves. I like all aspects of his game and I’m looking forward to sharing the arena with him.”
Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July - 16th August with analysis from Jimmy White.