Defending champion John Higgins today crashed out of the 888.com World Championship in Sheffield.
Higgins, aiming to become only the third player to successfully defend the title, lost 13-9 to Welshman Ryan Day in the second round at the Crucible.
The Scot led 4-0 and 6-3 during yesterday’s play but resumed this morning at 8-8 and quickly lost the first three frames, even though Day’s highest break was just 49.
A break of 83 saw Higgins back to his fluent best and gave him renewed hope at the mid-session interval, but the 32-year-old still needed to win four of a possible five remaining frames to progress.
That never looked likely as a completely out of sorts Higgins continued to miss easy balls, and Day went 12-9 ahead with a break of 48.
Another break of 48 was ended by a missed red along the cushion but Higgins amazingly missed the easy opener he was left and Day sealed a shock victory and a quarter-final clash with either Stephen Hendry or Ding Junhui.
Seven-time champion Hendry takes an 11-5 lead into today’s final session.
Another former champion, 2005 winner Shaun Murphy, was also in real trouble against Essex’s Ali Carter, Carter extending his 6-2 overnight lead to 9-3 at the mid-session interval.
Higgins was furious the table had not been re-covered before the start of the second round and accused tournament director Mike Ganley of not doing his job properly.
“I spoke to the tournament director about it, we are playing on the same cloth for eight days and they are going to re-cover them tonight I think,” Higgins said.
“They should be re-covered before the second round. We’ve always had these problems.
“We are talking about the biggest tournament in our lives and the answer I get back is that they haven’t got the manpower to re-cover the tables before the second round.
“It’s flabbergasting and I let it get to me and it’s a lesson I have to learn.
“The cushions are totally unplayable. Let me stress, Ryan totally deserved to win and the conditions are for both players but it was a lottery whenever you were playing off any cushions.
“It’s really pretty pathetic that they are undermanned and can’t re-cover them until tonight but tonight is too late for the likes of myself.
“I don’t think the tournament director is doing is job correctly. We are not asking a lot, it should be easily fixed.”
Day agreed the conditions were not ideal but added: “I understand what John was saying but I just tried to get on with it.
“There’s not a lot you can do about it, we have all played on the same table. I think I dealt with it best.
“I don’t think it was all that bad and even a brand new cloth has bad bounces.”