Although day four at the Crucible was the first this year not to see a deciding frame, it was not without its fair share of drama as both Ding Junhui and Ronnie O’Sullivan threatened to make maximum breaks early in the day.
In the ninth frame of his match with Mark Davis this morning, world number three Ding Junhui trailed 5-3, having just seen Mark Davis finally end one of the more bizarre Crucible statistics by making his first century at the venue.
Immediately in the next however he earned himself a good scoring chance and although I was sat over on table one to watch Mark Allen take on Ryan Day, even after a couple of reds I sensed that a maximum attempt might be on the cards and shuffled along the media bench to see as much of that table as I could.
As ever when a player is on all reds and blacks at the Crucible, the reaction of the crowd usually makes it fairly obvious and as Ding played some relatively difficult shots to stay on the black, one taking the cue ball in and out of baulk and with no reds safe, history and a £30,000 windfall beckoned for the Chinese number one.
But as obvious as the situation was to every other person in the arena, it was not so to Ding, who following his 13th red played up for the blue to the absolute shock of everybody watching.
As he told us after the match, it was only when the crowd groaned and he saw Mark Davis smiling that he realised what he had done and despite an attempt to cut the black back in, the break was to end on just 97, one of the most bizarre moments that I have seen in my 11 years at the tournament.
Every credit to Ding, who laughed both at the time and when he was questioned about what had happened afterwards, as it happened he would go on to complete victory and book his place in the second round a 10-7 winner.
One man who was very much aware of a possibility of a 147 was Ronnie O’Sullivan, who immediately set about a fourth Crucible maximum in the first frame of his match against Craig Steadman.
Unlike with Ding’s break, the maximum always looked to be more of an outside bet given the position of a couple of the reds, but with Ronnie there is always a sense of possibility that does not come with most of the other players.
For me though, the highlight of the break came as Ronnie asked referee Brendan Moore what the prize for a maximum break was, Brendan asking marker Marcel Eckardt to find out.
While normally this might have taken some time for him to radio the tournament office and make the enquiry, quick-thinking Marcel noticed me sat in front of him on the media bench and promptly tapped me on the head and got the answer, to which Ronnie said that was alright and continued on his way, before ultimately breaking down on 104.
With these chances, as well as efforts already by the likes of Jimmy Robertson and Ricky Walden earlier in the week, it is hard to believe that we will not see our first maximum here since Stephen Hendry’s back in 2012, but time will tell…