Snooker: McCulloch spoils Ebdon efforts to regain title

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The Independent Online

Peter Ebdon's efforts to regain his Embassy world title ended against the Lancashire player Ian McCulloch in Sheffield last night. The 2002 Crucible champion slumped to a 10-8 defeat against the 2002 British Open runner-up.

Afterwards, Ebdon said: "I really believed this was going to be my year. And I am sure I would have grown stronger throughout the tournament. Unfortunately we will never know."

Ebdon was arguably the form player coming to Sheffield after his recent victory in the Irish Masters and a run to the last four of the Players Championship. However, after stealing the 15th frame with a 57 clearance to black to lead 8-7, the wheels fell off for the Wellingborough star.

"I did come here in form but I have been beaten by an outstanding performance," Ebdon said. "He has got a great chance of becoming a top-16 player and if he continues to play like that, who knows?"

McCulloch, who now faces the Glaswegian Alan McManus for a place in the quarter-finals, said: "When the draw was made I knew I was in for a tough match because Peter has been playing well. But I am fortunate I don't usually twitch against the top players," said McCulloch, who now faces Glaswegian Alan McManus for a place in the quarter-finals.

"I have been a professional long enough to know that if you stick with the top players it puts them under pressure. Every time Peter went in front I usually came back with a 60 or 70 break," said McCulloch.