ANTHONY McGill beat childhood hero John Higgins on Wednesday night at the Coral UK Championship in York, and in doing so achieved what he called “the best result of my career”.
The 23-year-old from Glasgow held his nerve at the Barbican Centre in a tense deciding frame to clinch a shock 6-5 victory over a player who has won this title three times, and that he had hailed as an icon to young Scottish players before the match.
McGill has long been tipped as the next big thing north of the border, following on from Higgins, Stephen Hendry, Graeme Dott and Stephen Maguire – but his progress in the game has been steady rather than spectacular.
However the world No38 is now into Friday’s quarter-finals for his best ever run in a major event after surviving a late Higgins fightback from 4-1 adrift. There he will face either Ronnie O’Sullivan or Matt Selt.
Had McGill potted a pink in frame six he would almost certainly have gone 5-1 up and enjoyed a far easier afternoon – but in the end he was a relieved man to be through.
“I did okay today,” said McGill, who admitted he had received some stick in his career for a mild resemblance to a young Steve Davis. “John did give me a lot of chances, but he is a diamond guy and said well done and wished me the best afterwards.
“I got a bit ahead of myself at 4-1 up and missed an easy pink which turned the match. But this is definitely the best result of my career.
“I thought I held myself together well in the occasion, we had the whole arena to ourselves for much of the match with the other one finishing quickly.”
Higgins was generous in defeat. “The better player won the match, and I hope he or one of the other Scots goes on to win it now,” he said.
“He should have put me away earlier really. Anthony is a talent, you can tell he will do well. He has a good head on his shoulders and held himself together well, it can only be good for Scotland.”
McGill’s only previous ranking quarter-final came at the Indian Open in 2013.
Photograph by Monique Limbos