Davis is feeling on top of the world

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It was only the first round, but to Steve Davis it felt like winning the Embassy world title itself after he battled back to beat Willie Thorne at The Crucible in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Davis crept into the second round with a dramatic 10-8 success, after trailing 8-5, with a vintage display of cuemanship that revived memories of the evenings when he dominated the championship in Sheffield.

"I just tried to remember how I used to do it in the old days," said the 38-year-old world No 2, who has slipped to 10th on the provisional rankings after one of his worst seasons.

"Who knows what might happen as the tournament unfolds. But this result has restored belief in myself under the spotlight," he added when asked if he could win a seventh world title this time.

It might seem a small success in terms of his career but what it meant to Davis was evident in his salute to the audience after rolling in the final black of a 31 clearance to complete his triumph with a shot that brought a whoop of delight from his wife, Judy, who was watching on television backstage.

This eight-hour slog concluded at 20 minutes after midnight after an ultra-cautious opening session, which had run out of time one frame short of schedule. "Steve didn't win it, I lost it," Thorne said. "I feel like retiring but I won't. I know I'm playing well but I've lost the ability to win."

Alan McManus beat Mick Price 10-5 yesterday afternoon, but the scoreline flattered the 25-year-old Scotsman. McManus eventually rediscovered his touch in the day's second session, winning seven frames in a row. The bespectacled Price, from Nuneaton had locked on course for a surprise success, but scored only 45 points in the closing stages as his challenge collapsed.

EMBASSY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (Sheffield) First round: S Davis (Eng) bt W Thorne (Eng) 10-8; A McManus (Sco) bt M Price (Eng) 10-5.