World Championship 2019: Ronnie O’Sullivan suffers shock defeat by James Cahill

World Championship 2019: Ronnie O’Sullivan suffers shock defeat by James Cahill

By Owen Phillips

BBC Sport at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

Debutant James Cahill punched the air after his first-round victory
Betfred World Snooker Championship
Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 20 April-6 May
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC Two, Red Button, iPlayer, Connected TV, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app.

Amateur James Cahill pulled off the biggest shock in Crucible history as he completed an astonishing 10-8 first-round win over five-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.

O’Sullivan trailed 5-4 overnight and the increasingly rattled world number one slipped 8-5 behind, missing countless simple chances against the 23-year-old qualifier.

A jaded-looking O’Sullivan then somehow found some form, scoring breaks of 104 and 89 to level.

But Cahill, who does not even have a world ranking, showed remarkable composure under pressure to get over the line.

“I could barely stand up at the end,” the Blackpool potter told BBC Sport. “I am not really sure what to say.

“I scored a good pressure 70 to go 6-5 up and after that I felt like he was the one under pressure. He didn’t want to lose to me.

“I have always believed in myself and that I can beat anyone on my day. I want to show what I can do now.”

O’Sullivan was set to go 9-8 ahead but missed a relatively simple final pink to allow Cahill, the first-ever amateur to make it through to the Crucible, the chance to clear up.

And he made sure of his place in round two, when he will face Scotland’s Stephen Maguire, with a fine clearance of 53 in the final frame.

Cahill lost his professional status in 2017, but has won back his two-year tour card from next season after a strong year playing as a top-up player on tour.

He backed up his impressive first-session performance in the pressure-filled arena against a man considered the greatest player of all time.

O’Sullivan not at 100%

O’Sullivan, who has now failed to progress beyond the quarter-finals at the Crucible since 2014, told the BBC that his “limbs felt heavy” and he “had no energy”.

“I felt horrendous. I was struggling to stay awake,” the 43-year-old said.

“I haven’t felt great for a few weeks and I have not slept brilliantly the past couple of nights.

“You have to come here physically and mentally well. If you are not 100% it will make it harder. I tried to hang in there and get through and have a few days off.

“He did well. He held himself together. It’s been a very successful season for me, but it wasn’t meant to be.”

O’Sullivan finishes the season having won three ranking titles, and remains level with Stephen Hendry with the most ranking crowns in total – 36.

O’Sullivan often looked dejected in his chair in his first-round defeat

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