Stephen Hendry was poised to lose his place in the world’s top 16 after defeat by Robert Milkins in the first round of the Shanghai Masters.
The 42-year-old lost four frames in succession from 1-1, meaning he is set to drop out of the world’s elite for the first time in 23 years.
That would leave him having to qualify for December’s UK Championship and could also see him miss out on the Masters, a tournament he has won a record six times, with this the final ranking event before the October cut-off date.
Asked how he would feel about missing the events, Hendry said: “Of course it would be disappointing. But the way I’m playing at the moment I’d lose in the first round anyway.
“I’m just playing very badly and I’ve got very little confidence.”
Hendry could yet earn a reprieve for the Masters, with no decision having yet been taken on whether any wild cards will be invited into the tournament.
The Scot was not the only big name to fall in today’s evening session as world number four Ding Junhui lost 5-3 to Martin Gould, but Neil Robertson and Matthew Stevens found life easier, claiming 5-0 and 5-2 wins over Liang Wenbo and Stephen Lee respectively.
That ended home interest in the tournament, with no Chinese players having made it into the second round.
John Higgins and Mark Williams both cruised into the last 16 in the afternoon session.
World champion Higgins eased to a 5-2 victory over Mark Davis, while world number one Williams enjoyed an even more comprehensive triumph in whitewashing Andrew Higginson 5-0.
Williams barely gave Higginson a look-in as he raced to an emphatic win to secure a last-16 clash with Milkins.
Higgins was on the front foot from the start with a 112 break in the opening frame and, although Davis drew level, the Scot clinched the next two frames to put himself in the driving seat.
The pair shared a scrappy next two frames before Higgins finished things off - courtesy of a 68 break – to set up a meeting with Stuart Bingham, who put together two century breaks during his 5-1 thrashing of World Championship runner-up Judd Trump.
The result was enough to leave Bingham, winner of the Australian Goldfields Open in July, dreaming of back-to-back ranking victories.
“I haven’t been playing well in practice, but once I got on the match table I felt the same as I did in Australia and managed to show that form again,” Bingham told www.worldsnooker.com.
“There’s no reason why I can’t win this. If I play as well as I did in Australia I can do it. I’ve been playing well for 18 months now and I just want to keep it going.”
Nottingham cueman Michael Holt also advanced today – by seeing off 2006 world champion Graeme Dott 5-2.
The Scot rallied from 3-0 down to get the deficit down to a single frame before Holt pulled away.
Next up for Holt is former world champion Robertson.