World Snooker Championship: Mark Joyce rues missed opportunity against Ronnie O'Sullivan

Mark Joyce (right) and Ronnie O'Sulllivan
Mark Joyce had chances to draw level at 4-4 in the first session against Ronnie O'Sullivan
Betfred World Snooker Championship
Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 17 April-3 May
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four and Red Button, with uninterrupted coverage on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app.

World Championship debutant Mark Joyce says his first-round defeat against six-time winner Ronnie O'Sullivan was a missed opportunity.

Defending champion O'Sullivan led 37-year-old Joyce 6-3 after an unconvincing first session, but closed out a 10-4 victory in magnificent style with three centuries.

Walsall potter Joyce said: "He was there for the taking in the morning.

"But he played well in the evening and was at his clinical best."

Joyce, who was playing at the Crucible for the first time following 17 unsuccessful attempts to qualify, had looked relatively composed and settled in his new surroundings as he scored two half-centuries to recover from 3-1 down to trail 4-3.

But world number two O'Sullivan won a vital eighth frame after Joyce missed a routine black, and then made a frame-winning break of 69 to stretch his lead when his opponent twitched on a simple red.

O'Sullivan's lead was cut to 6-4 in the evening session, but he stepped up a level, with some majestic snooker seeing him through.

"He looked as edgy as me early doors which was a surprise," Joyce said. "It just shows the pressure of the Crucible if a man of his experience can be under it as well.

"I gave him easy starters and he was knocking in balls I should have potted really.

"I don't think I can beat myself up about it too much having never played here before. It's probably natural.

"I missed some easy balls in the first session. My long potting and safety was probably better than Ronnie's. I created my chances and got in the balls but just missed too many.

"When he got further in front he was playing with more freedom. He's a rhythm player and once he gets into his rhythm he's hard to stop."

Joyce, a three-time ranking event quarter-finalist and the 2019 Riga Masters runner-up, said his first appearance at snooker's showpiece event had left him with "mixed emotions".

"I'm thrilled to have the experience of playing at the Crucible," he added. "But I'm quite disappointed with my performance.

"It's given me massive determination to qualify and come back again. Hopefully next time I can relax a bit more and play to the level I know I can do.

"I know what the tournament is all about. It's an amazing arena to play in."

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