Ronnie O'Sullivan admitted he was a long way from his best after coming through a tough final to beat defending champion Mark Selby and claim The Masters title at Wembley Arena last night.
The 33-year-old world champion held his nerve to win an exciting final showdown 10-8 and land the title for a fourth time.
The contest swung one way and then the other, before reaching its conclusion shortly before a quarter past midnight.
O'Sullivan had looked in excellent form in the early stages, winning the first two frames, and moving 3-1 ahead when he capitalised on a Selby mistake with a break of 101.
But he could not move too far clear and ended up relieved to have emerged on top.
"I was just trying to compete because Mark is a fantastic player. I'm pleased to come out on top," O'Sullivan told BBC Sport.
"It was always going to be tough. I wasn't getting any rhythm going. For a bit of a game I wasn't getting a run of the balls and I was fighting, but then I found a bit of form."
O'Sullivan attributed some of the struggles to a new cue, required after he broke the one with which he won the world championship in frustration.
"I'm still not fully comfortable with the cue, but I'm managing to have a heart, be determined and play with the attitude to win," he said.
"I was just pleased to be able to compete towards the end of the final and it was nice to finish it off with decent snooker."
Selby used a break of 76 to tie it at 3-3, and the 'Jester from Leicester' then went ahead for the first time by winning a scrappy seventh frame.
He might have gone 5-3 ahead but missed a tricky red and O'Sullivan pounced to tie it up.
In the evening session the world champion fluked a red and went on to clear up for a 5-4 advantage - before Selby hit back strongly by reeling off three frames in impressive fashion.
The world number four squared the match with a break of 101, followed up with another run of 89 to take the lead - then produced a break of 114 which put him in a strong position at 7-5.
However, O'Sullivan kept his hopes alive by winning a scrappy 13th frame, then made Selby pay for a missed opportunity in the 14th frame, snatching it on the black to level the contest.
The 33-year-old took control with a break of 110 in the next but Selby levelled the match with a knock of 76.
O'Sullivan put himself one frame away from victory with a cool clearance of 18 - after both players had missed chances on the blue as tension took over.
A restart was needed when both players agreed to referee Jan Verhaas' suggestion of a rerack in the early stages of the 18th frame.
And with the clock approaching midnight another rerack was required after another bout of safety had led to stalemate.
However, O'Sullivan finished the stronger and he took his chance when he got it to make sure of a fourth title. "I only had an hour's practice," he said. "I'm still not fully comfortable with the cue, but I'm managing to have a heart, be determined and play with the attitude to win and just try to enjoy my game.
"I would like to be a bit more clinical, but I can't be too hard on myself. That was pretty decent all round."
O'Sullivan, playing with a new cue after smashing the one he won the world championship with before his first-round match with Joe Perry, described the victory as his "best achievement in snooker".