RICKY Walden concedes he lost to a future star of world snooker in the first round of the UK Championships.
The Chester-born potter led 2-0, 4-2 and 5-4 in his encounter with 17-year-old Belgian Luca Brecel at the Barbican in York.
But with the clock counting down to midnight on Monday, it was the teenager – and current world number 74 – who held his nerve to knock out Walden in a nervy final frame.
The win for Brecel, who this year became the youngest ever player to qualify for the World Championships, set up a second-round clash with fellow qualifier Mark King.
Walden, 30, the current world number 11, said: “There’s no excuse because I was sloppy all the way through and gifted a lot of frames to Luca.
“Luca did really well. I know he’s been to Sheffield for the worlds, but for one of his first big televised games he handled himself really well.
“He’s got a good game and I’m sure he will go on to do very well but I made it very easy for him.
“It’s very frustrating and disappointing to be going home so early. I’m gutted.”
The upset is made all the more remarkable considering Walden has been one of the form players at the start of this season, winning the Wuxi Classic back in July.
British Eurosport is showing 19 tournaments this season including the World Championship, UK Championship, the Masters and all ranking events, available on Sky (410/411) and Virgin Media (521/525) or online/on mobile via eurosportplayer.co.uk.