Betfred World Championship debutant Anthony McGill moved within three frames of dispatching reigning champion Mark Selby following a strong end to the opening session of Friday’s action.
McGill, tipped by Ronnie O’Sullivan as a future winner of the tournament at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, rattled off three winning frames to lead the second-round match 10-6 after the rivals had started the day locked on 4-4.
All the momentum heading into the evening session will be with the 24-year-old Glaswegian after he seized the last frame 72-3 as breaks of 54 and 18 swept him out of sight.
He was at his most impressive in frame 14, however, when he pieced together a break of 125 to close in on the biggest victory of his career.
Selby is in danger of surrendering the title he won for the first time last year in only the second round and enters the evening session knowing he must win all seven remaining frames to progress further at the Crucible.
McGill, whose shock of red hair makes him instantly recognisable, was forced to qualify for the World Championship but now stands on the cusp of a famous upset at Selby’s expense.
Indications of Selby’s vulnerability were apparent in the opening round when he had to scrap his way to a 10-9 win over Kurt Maflin, battling back after losing five successive frames.
He now faces becoming the latest victim of the ‘Curse of the Crucible’, whereby no first-time champion has ever returned to Sheffield to make a successful title defence.
Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry has been impressed by the performance of McGill.
“The biggest thing is that he is showing tremendous temperament. He looks like he’s been here for years when it’s his debut at the Crucible. Nothing seems to faze him,” Hendry said.
“Although he’s had a nice 125, I’d like to see him win more frames from his first scoring visit. If he wants to win the World Championship, he has to do that more often as the tournament progresses.
“But I’ve been really impressed with the way he’s held himself together and he’s outplayed Mark Selby so far.”