ALI CARTER held his nerve to make a stunning comeback and beat defending champion Stuart Bingham on an epic opening day of the 2016 World Championship.
In a match which went all the way to a deciding frame, Carter dug in when it mattered and came back from 9-8 down to send Bingham packing at the first hurdle.
A thrilling ending to what had been a topsy-turvey contest, Carter appeared to be a beaten man when he trailed Bingham 9-8 after he saw his 8-5 lead overturned by last year’s surprise winner.
But a brilliant break of 102, under huge pressure, forced the match into a deciding frame which Carter edged out following a number of crucial and brave long pots at vital times.
The agonising defeat ends a miserable campaign for Bingham who has failed to win a trophy throughout the season despite claiming the famous world trophy last year in memorable style against the odds.
And Bingham joined a long list of first time Crucible winners who have failed to successfully defend the title at the first time of asking – a predicament which has been labelled The Crucible Curse.
The last time a World Championship winner from the previous year suffered a first round exit when defending their title was Neil Robertson.
The Australian lost 10-9 to Judd Trump in 2011 – twelve months after he beat Graeme Dott to lift the crown.
Carter, who in recent times has successfully battled with life-threatening testicular and lung cancer, will face either Stephen Maguire or Alan McManus in the next round.
Both Scots began their first round battle in today’s afternoon session which saw McManus close with a 6-3 lead going into Sunday’s conclusion.
Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s Marco Fu became the first player to reach the second round after he convincingly beat Peter Ebdon 10-2.
Fu, who is yet to win the World Championship, was in impressive form as he hit two centuries and several breaks over the 50 mark.
He will next face either Shaun Murphy or Anthony McGill in the next round.
Murphy leads the tie 5-4 going into Sunday morning’s final session.
Sunday sees bookies favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan begin his bid for a sixth World Championship crown against Tamworth star David Gilbert.