Snooker: Beers ease the way for Mazrocis

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The Independent Online
Stefan Mazrocis caused the biggest upset for 15 years at the World Championship with his first-round defeat yesterday of last year's beaten finalist, Peter Ebdon. Mazrocis, a 250-1 chance before the tournament, reached the last 16 with a 10-3 victory over the world No 3. Not since Tony Knowles beat Steve Davis 10-1 at the first stage in 1982 has the Crucible witnessed such a result.

"This is the greatest victory of my career," Mazrocis said. "I came to Sheffield determined to enjoy myself whether I won or lost. Two years ago I qualified to play Stephen Hendry and didn't enjoy it one bit. I knew I was going to lose to him and it was a big disappointment."

Mazrocis began the day with a 6-2 lead over England's World Cup captain and never let the advantage slip. "I had a couple of beers before the match and a few more during the game," the 30-year-old, Leicester-based winner said. "I didn't have too many but they helped me relax."

The success guaranteed Mazrocis, whose father emigrated from Latvia before the war, a pay-day of pounds 16,800 and a second round match against Alain Robidoux or Brian Morgan.

"Since turning professional I haven't really done myself justice," he said. "The qualifying school at Blackpool is so tough. You've got to keep your head together for two months and it's a real struggle."

Ebdon, sounding like a defeated parliamentary candidate, said he now planned to "spend some quality time" with his wife and children following his early exit from the competition.

"It's only my job and I've just had a bad day at the office," he said. "I really lost the match yesterday when I went 6-2 down. I felt much better today and really fancied winning the match. I thought if I got anywhere near him I would be a certainty. But all credit to Stefan. He held himself together even though he started to go a bit at the end."

The match never reached the heights, with Mazrocis's best break just 77. Ebdon managed only one half-century.

Results, Digest, page 19