Anthony McGill believes he belongs with the very best on the baize after yet another dose of final-frame heartbreak at the Betfred World Snooker Championship.
McGill missed out in one of Crucible’s greatest matches last year and saw his hopes dashed in the decider again with an agonising 13-12 quarter-final loss to Stuart Bingham in Sheffield.
The Glaswegian, who beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in the second round, insists the only way is up despite emerging bloodied from a scintillating battle with 2015 world champion Bingham.
“It’s two tough ways to lose but I’ve got a pretty good outlook on it and I know for a fact that I’m a lot better than I’ve ever been,” he said.
“Good things are going to happen, I’ve got no doubt about it.
“I think I’m every bit as good as anyone. I don’t think many people think I’m that great, but I don’t need to prove anything to anyone but myself.
“I’ve had a great tournament. I’ve not enjoyed the season but every player would take that, I’ve really enjoyed this week and look forward to being back.”
Two centuries in an outstanding second session had given McGill an overnight lead, one he added to when scoring 107 in the 17th frame of the match.
But Bingham, who needed to qualify for the event, fought back with four consecutive breaks of 50+.
The two traded frames until the 25th and final frame of a gripping contest went the Englishman’s way in Sheffield, now set to face three-time world champion Mark Selby, who beat Mark Williams with a session to spare.
“It’s brilliant to play here, it was quality this week and I’ve really enjoyed it,” added McGill.
“One part of my game that I trust so much is my nerve under pressure. I don’t think, in those last three frames, that I played a bad shot.
“I just need to find a way to capitalise on leads. My mind wanders, it takes a bit of pressure to kick in that I need.
“I’ve had a great time, played a lot of good snooker this week. I didn’t quite find my game for a few hours but I’m not going to let that detract from the fact that my game is so strong.
“I’m every bit as good as these guys now. I’ve been working for years to try and get to a level, and there’s no doubt in my mind that I’m up there.”
As the last Scot standing in the last two World Championships, confidence is understandably high for a man who is set to start next season firmly in the top 16.
And despite the nature of defeat, even the Smiling Assassin knows there are plenty of positives to take – both on and off the table.
“Everything is good, there are a lot of exciting times to come,” he added. “I’m still young and good-looking and have a few quid in the bank. It’s brilliant.
“I wish I’d won that match but it’s not the end of the world.”
The prize for Bingham is a daunting semi-final face-off with Mark Selby, the form player left in the draw.
The three-time world champion thrashed Mark Williams 13-3 to win his quarter-final with a session to spare.
“The way I’ve played so far, you don’t always think you can keep that up all the way through but fingers crossed I can,” Selby said.
PLEASE LEAVE IN FINAL PAR – Watch the World Snooker Championship live on Eurosport and Eurosport app from April 17- May 3