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.
Sheffield-based world number four Ding Junhui slumped to a 5-3 defeat to Martin Gould.