SHEFFIELD: Defending world champion Peter Ebdon saw his bid to defend his title ended by the curse of the Crucible Theatre here on Wednesday when he was beaten 13-12 by Paul Hunter in a thrilling quarter-final.
Not since the world championships moved to the Crucible in 1977 has a defending first time champion retained his title the following year.
“I'm bitterly disappointed but I tried my best,” said Ebdon.
“Paul is a tremendous player and I knew it was only a matter of time before he did well at the world championship.
“But I tried for my life out there and I really thought I could break the curse.”
Hunter, the 24-year-old ninth seed, now faces former world champion Ken Doherty in the semi-finals. Earlier Wednesday, Marco Fu's impressive run in the tournament came to an end with a 13-7 last eight defeat by England's Stephen Lee.
Hong Kong’s Fu, the 20th seed, had knocked out Ronnie O'Sullivan and Alan McManus on his way to a maiden world championship quarter-final.
But, after resuming at 4-4, 25-year-old Fu ran out of steam.
Lee now faces the other former world champion left, Wales' Mark Williams, who beat seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry 13-7.
In the process, 28-year-old Williams became the first player since fellow Welshman Ray Reardon back in the 1970s to regain the number one spot in the world rankings.
Williams has already had a superb season in winning the UK Championship and the Masters.
Doherty defeated fellow former world champion John Higgins 13-8 in an extraordinary quarter-final.
And afterwards Doherty admitted it would have been “the biggest collapse since the Wall Street crash,” had he lost against the Scot. – AFP