MARK Selby said he “expected the light to go off” in the “social club” because he was playing so badly in his second round clash with Ryan Day.
The world number two found himself 3-0 down, unable to cue a long pot, and looking odds-on to go out of the williamhill.com UK Championship.
But the Leicester potter staged a remarkable recovery – reeling off five frames in a row – on his way to a 6-4 victory.
The turning point in the match came in the sixth frame when, with both players having spurned a number of chances, it looked like Day would go 4-2 up after leaving Selby needing a snooker with only pink and black available.
The pink was lying over the corner pocket but Selby played a remarkable shot to leave Day snookered behind the black and, when he missed, produced an even better effort to pot the pink, swing the white round the table, and into perfect position on the black.
It was a setback that seemed to break Day and Selby improbably moved 5-3 in front with efforts of 99 and 103.
With Day now missing elementary pots, Selby had the chance to wrap it up in the next frame but missed a simple black on 59 with the match at his mercy.
To his credit, Day cleared up to be only 5-4 down but Selby was not to be denied.
“I wanted to get off to a great start and I was trying really hard, and it just seemed to get worse and worse the harder I was trying,” Selby said.
“I managed to nick the frame to go 3-1 before the interval which still kept me in the game and after that I just tried to relax.
“The turning point was the sixth frame when I managed to get the snooker and win that.
“It was strange because Ryan was in front but I could see he was still feeling the pressure. He missed a few balls I didn’t expect him to miss and after I won that frame I seemed to play okay.”
Earlier, Selby looked totally out of sorts and a 68 break, along with 45 in the third frame, gave Day a commanding advantage.
But he missed a long pot in the fourth, and Selby finally stepped up with 67, and, after both could have won the fifth before it was taken by the former world number one, the pivotal sixth frame turned the match on its head.
“I’ve not played to land exactly where I did, but I’ve had to go round the table to give myself half a chance,” Selby added of his spectacular positional shot from pink to black.
“Luckily enough for me it came to land where it did.
“If it was a little bit difficult I probably wouldn’t have potted it.
“The way the match started I really couldn’t have got any worse.
“I think my highest break up to the interval was probably seven.
“I was expecting the light to go off half-way through. I thought I was playing at a social club.
“After the interval I relaxed and I seemed to perform when I needed to perform at the back end of the match.”