China's Ding Junhui in action against Ryan Day (back) of Wales during their first-round match at the world championships in Sheffield, England, yesterday.
China's Ding Junhui suffered a shock first-round loss at the world championships when on the brink of victory as Ryan Day staged a remarkable recovery at the Crucible Theater in Sheffield, England, yesterday.
At 9-6 up, Ding was just one frame away from going through to the last 16.
But his Welsh opponent reeled off four straight frames for a 10-9 victory.
Even in the deciding frame Ding, twice a winner of the UK Championship (snooker's second most important tournament) had the first chance.
But the Sheffield-based 25-year-old, who'd earlier won five frames in a row to go 9-6 in front, missed a red with a rest after making 48.
That error let in Day and he responded with a match-winning break of 64.
Reigning champion John Higgins said before the tournament he would be "flabbergasted" if Ding, who reached the semifinals last year, never won the world championship.
But both the Scot and Ding's legion of fans throughout China will now have to wait for at least another 12 months to see if that prediction comes true.
Earlier, former champion Graeme Dott was left contemplating a "nightmare" 1-10 defeat by Joe Perry.
Dott was a shadow of the player who has featured in three world finals and won the title in 2006 but the 34-year-old Scot insisted he would bounce back.
"If there was ever a nightmare in snooker, that was it," Dott said. "I don't feel I can turn it around just now. I feel as if I need to chuck it if I'm playing as bad as that.
"I'm sure I'll come back and play okay again, but I've no idea why I played as bad as that. I just wanted out. I couldn't pot a ball, I couldn't hit the white.
"And it was actually more demoralizing that Joe was playing so bad. You can usually take it if someone plays well, but Joe was missing, and even at 5-0 I thought, 'Joe's not really settled'."
Yesterday's match resumed with Perry 8-1 in front and the 37-year-old Englishman now goes on to play Scotland's Stephen Maguire.
Perry, whose highest break was just 59, said: "I wasn't happy with my own game, and was just trying not to feel sorry for my opponent. As a professional sportsman you can't do that but it was tough."