Every pot felt like giving a “pint of blood” but Ali Carter proved he had enough in the tank after knocking Mark Selby out of the Masters.
The Captain hadn’t won a match at the Triple Crown event since 2015 but brushed aside an unwanted record in style with a 6-4 win over the three-time champion.
He had to scrap over the line the hard way, however, seeing his 3-1 lead turn into a 4-3 deficit before holding his nerve to reach the quarter-finals for the third time.
But there was an extra degree of satisfaction in overcoming one of snooker’s toughest players to beat, with breaks of 82, 63 and 68 pivotal in securing the last three frames of the match.
“I did well to win the first frame, I was very nervous starting out there – it felt a long time since playing on the one-table setup,” said the world No.17
“At 3-1, I felt good after the mid-session interval but tried to be a bit too careful, he’s made a monster clearance and it’s back to 3-2.
“I’m delighted to win, it’s a big one for me and he’s such a good player.
“It was nice to dig deep – every ball felt like a pint of blood towards the end.
“We’re all different – if I get my back against the wall, that’s where I get fighting.
“It’s tough out there. If it went 5-5, I felt that I was going to lose. I haven’t had any good wins this year, Selby has won two Home Nations events and I thought he would be full of confidence.”
Carter plays either John Higgins or Barry Hawkins in Thursday’s quarter-final – but just being at the Ally Pally was already a shock for the Essex potter.
An underwhelming season saw him look set to miss out in the battle of the top 16 players, only getting his place in the tournament after Ronnie O’Sullivan’s withdrawal.
The pair, who have not always seen eye-to-eye at the table, were reunited in the Eurosport studio after the match – with Carter joking that he would gift a percentage of his prize fund to the Rocket should he go on and win the tournament in London.
“Every match is a final, there isn’t a player who’s competing that I haven’t beaten before, it’s just about trying to make sure you have three or four good days,” he added.
“I need to start scoring heavier, but now that first match is out of the way, it feels a lot better.
“To get out there, you’re back where you belong, it had been a while so I was nervous at the start and all day, just looking at my watch and waiting for 7pm.
“This was a chance – I didn’t want to waste it. I didn’t want to miss easy balls when it’s such a big opportunity.”
Watch the London Masters LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with analysis from Ronnie O'Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.