Ding Junhui was left deflated after his Masters curse struck again on Monday in his first-round defeat by the unfancied Ryan Day.
The Sheffield-based potter won snooker’s second biggest prize in 2011 but has won just one match at the Alexandra Palace since then – with Day coming from 3-0 down to convincingly win 6-4.
The key moment came in the eighth frame, with Ding trailing 4-3, when he ran out of position while seemingly set to level the match.
He required the rest to attempt a tricky red but accidentally touched the blue while lining the shot up, handing Day five points and a frame-winning opportunity – which the Welshman subsequently took.
Ding hit back in the next frame but Day finished with a sublime 115 to win, leaving the Chinese star frustrated with the costly error that led to his sixth first-round exit in the last seven years.
“I got a chance to level the match at 4-4 but I fouled the blue, little things like that happen to me a lot when I come here,” he said.
“It always happens to stop me winning. I got a chance but I did not take it. I also had a chance to go 4-3 up and I was on a red but I made a mistake from the black to the red.
“Ryan played great and I missed a couple of shots but I don’t think I did anything wrong. He came back very quickly after the start and potted everything – he was like Superman.
“He went for everything and he potted it."
Ding, one of the pre-tournament favourites, started the match quickly and won the first three frames, with breaks of 111 and 58 helping build an early lead.
But Day clinched the last frame before the interval with a gutsy 79 and then rattled in back-to-back centuries to take control.
As the match began to drift away, the pressure intensified on Ding and he could not stop his Masters rot – leaving April’s World Championships in Sheffield as his last chance to claim one of snooker’s big three titles this season.
“I will just keep working hard now. I have not played that much this year because I wanted a bit of time away so it is quite had to come straight back and win,” he added.
Watch the London Masters LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with Colin Murray and analysis from Neil Robertson, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.