Mark Selby’s disappointing Masters form continued after suffering a first-round defeat to Ali Carter at the Alexandra Palace.
The Jester from Leicester is a three-time champion of the prestigious invitational event but hasn’t gone beyond the second round since last winning the tournament in 2013.
That underwhelming run continued on the opening night in London, recording a first-round exit for the second time in three years after his 6-4 loss.
“The first frame was a small turning point, I played a poor yellow and should have gone 1-0 up – after that, the game never forgives you,” said the world No.4.
“I felt I was going to score well, even before the interval, and at 3-1 down that came at a good time for me.
“I made a good break to get to 3-2 and after that I felt like the stronger player.
“With a bit of luck, I could have gone 5-3 up but after that I didn’t really have much of a chance to get myself over the line.
“From 4-4, I could have won the match if I landed on a ball – I felt as though I had the momentum so went for a cut that I missed, if I got that it’s probably 5-4 and I’d felt good to win the match.
“He’s then cleared up well and shut me out of the next two frames.”
Carter pinched the first frame on the final black and from there seized the initiative, going into the mid-session interval with a 3-1 lead.
But Selby – who donned the World Snooker Tour’s Triple Crown logo after winning all three major competitions in his career – wasn’t the best player of the last decade for nothing.
Breaks of 74, 56 and 94 saw him roar into a 4-3 lead but, with both players enjoying and enduring luck along the way, the 36-year-old’s fortune deserted him at just the wrong time.
Carter pulled the game back square and from there played a solid, if unspectacular, final two frames to ease to the winning post and move into the quarter-finals for the third time in his career.
For Selby, meanwhile, it’s back to the practice table ahead of a busy second half of the season, which will culminate in the World Championships at the Crucible Theatre in April.
He added: “It’s a trip to Austria next for me, and then we go to Cheltenham for some Tour Championship events so it’s going to be a busy time.”
Watch the London Masters LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with analysis from Ronnie O'Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.