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Stephen Maguire seals quarter-final spot by holding off Zhao Xintong

The Scot resumed the final session of their match two frames from victory before the Chinese seventh seed fought back.

Stephen Maguire seals quarter-final spot by holding off Zhao Xintong SNS Group

Stephen Maguire booked his place in the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship with a borrowed cue after withstanding a fightback from Zhao Xintong in Sheffield.

The 41-year-old Scot resumed the final session of their match two frames from victory but lost four of the first five on Saturday before a break of 59 saw him seal a 13-9 win over the Chinese seventh seed.

Maguire, a two-time semi-finalist who has plummeted to 40 in the current world rankings, revealed he took drastic measures after being distinctly unimpressed with his form during a gruelling first-round win over Shaun Murphy.

Maguire, who is guaranteed at least £50,000 by reaching the last eight, said: “When I played Shaun I was rubbish and Shaun was even worse, so I went back up to Glasgow and made my mind up that I wasn’t coming back with that cue because I felt like I had no chance.

“I borrowed my mate’s cue and had a couple of days of practice with it and liked it, and it has seemed to pay off. I’ll ask my mate how much he wants for it – hopefully not a lot.”

Zhao had threatened to launch a stirring comeback after making a good start to their final session, and could have heaped more pressure on Maguire in the 22nd frame, only for a missed pink to the middle to effectively end his chances.

“I think I can learn from this experience and next year I will be better,” said Zhao, for whom defeat rounds off a breakthrough season that saw him clinch the UK and German Masters crowns. “I have confidence that one day I will win this tournament.”

Defending champion Mark Selby faces a battle to cling onto his Crucible crown as he trailed Yan Bingtao 9-7 heading into Saturday evening’s concluding session of their second-round match.

Yan, the 22-year-old Masters champion, threatened to out-muscle his opponent by taking the first three frames – including an opening century – to establish a 7-4 lead.

Selby responded with a break of 132 and came from behind to steal a pivotal 14th frame when Yan had looked on the brink of extending his lead to 9-5.

Another century from Selby reduced the deficit to a single frame but Yan proved up for the challenge, winning a lengthy safety battle in the final frame of the session to ensure a slender advantage.