John Higgins angrily labelled the manner of his British Open exit “unforgivable”, admitting “it only gets worse as you get older.”
The four-time champion suffered a surprise second-round defeat at the hands of world number 68 Yuan SiJun, having surrendered a 64-8 lead in the deciding frame at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
Higgins had recovered from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 after compiling the 900th century of his career, becoming only the second player to reach that landmark after Ronnie O’Sullivan.
However, the Scotsman was unable to see the job through in the decider, missing match ball before his Chinese opponent clawed back and snatched a dramatic victory on the final black.
Higgins was a beaten finalist on five occasions last season; notably surrendering a 9-4 lead against Neil Robertson in the Tour Championship, while he was also 8-6 to the good against Mark Allen in the Northern Ireland Open showpiece.
And the world number five could not hide his disappointment after he was made to rue another missed opportunity.
“It’s a milestone, but I would have preferred it to have happened in a win,” he told WST.
“It is unforgivable how you can’t close it out like that in the last frame – just unforgivable.
“You can add this to the list of so many times when I have collapsed near the finishing line.
“It only gets worse as you get older.”