Stephen Maguire reaches Betfred World Championship quarters with borrowed tail | Billiards


Stephen Maguire saw a huge gamble pay off handsomely as he headed into the Crucible quarter-finals with a borrowed cue.

The 41-year-old from Glasgow stunned Chinese sensation Zhao Xintong with a 13-9 win in their Betfred World Championship second round clash.

Former world No. 2 Maguire has dropped to No. 40 in the rankings after two lackluster campaigns and only one ranking title success in the past nine years.

And after a lackluster first-round victory over former champion Shaun Murphy Maguire took drastic measures – switching from a maple tail to an ash one owned by a good friend.

Two-time Crucible semi-finalist Maguire planned to buy the cue when he returned, but after securing himself a £50,000 minimum wage the price may have gone up.

Maguire said: “When I played Shaun I sucked. The cue I used against him was maple, but that was a bit new anyway – I think I hadn’t used it only for a few weeks.

“But I decided when I went back to Glasgow that I wouldn’t use that one again and wouldn’t have a chance with him in the next round.

“I must be crazy but I borrowed my homie’s cock – the great Brian Taylor – I had a few days practice with it, liked it and it seemed like a good move

“I needed one with arrows on the side to see the shot better. It helps me see it better.

“And the two woods are also completely different – ​​everything about them. The way it sounds when you hit it, the way it feels, the way it plays, the way it goes when you put the side on it…

“It’s in your head, what signal you’re using and whether to change it – but any professional who says you can’t change your signal is saying nonsense. Of course you can.

“To be honest, I change mine too much, which I don’t like, but when you look at the number of balls we hit with a piece of wood, 100% if you play every day, it gets weaker. He loses power.

“If you use the same cue for 25 years, it must be rubbish – it can’t be as good. So I’ll try to keep this one, I’ll ask my mate how many he wants.

“I hope it’s not a lot, and I can afford it, square it up and keep it. He’s a friend, so we’ll see if the price has gone up.

“What I really enjoyed about the game was having a game plan and seeing it work. I knew I couldn’t get past Zhao, so I tried to keep it tight and play it. keep in tall grass.

“If then he gets all the long and fancy and gets big breaks, then you say fair play, but I thought it would be tough on a best-of-25-frame match at the Crucible. Billiards is difficult.

“I did the same against Zhou Yuelong in the final qualifier, because I couldn’t outplay him either.

“I’m not used to having that kind of lead, 11-5, and I seemed to come out pretty flat on Saturday despite having been really up for it in previous sessions.

“When you’re five or six points ahead, you look at the scoreboard and you think everything’s fine, but all of a sudden it starts to come back.

“Part of the reason he ended up getting closer was my fault, I took a few crazy shots that I hadn’t done the whole game, trying to cross the line and finish it.

“I could have paid for it when he came back to nine and could have gotten to 10, but luckily I had a nice break in the last frame.

“There are a few boys here, so we’ll probably watch the Tyson Fury fight on Saturday night in Sheffield, and switch off a few days before the quarter-final.”

Zhao said: “Even though I’m disappointed to have lost, it was a great season for me winning the UK Championship and the German Masters.

“This game was a learning experience and something I can learn and use in the future. My only regret is that I didn’t play my best at all in the first two sessions. I played a lot better today in the third session, but it was too late.

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