Hong Kong’s Marco Fu lost his cue tip but held his nerve to level his World Snooker Championship semi-final against Mark Selby at 8-8 on Friday.
Fu had started the afternoon session trailing 5-3 but took control against the world number one and was looking to move ahead in the 15th frame when the bizarre cue incident happened.
While chalking his cue and glancing at the table mid-break, Fu nudged the tip off and joined the Crucible crowd in shock as the world number 14 realised what had happened.
Television analysts Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis were equally surprised and suggested the incident could upset the 38-year-old’s progress in the best-of-33 frames encounter as he chased a first appearance in the final.
But, after an interlude for running repairs, Fu showed no concerns with his amended equipment and closed out the frame with a break of 81.
Selby, who had been short of his best throughout, won the last frame to ensure they would resume on Saturday with nothing between them.
Fu looked to have it won before he botched the final red, a mistake his rival then matched before a sloppy safety shot from Fu finally settled matters in Selby’s favour.
He finished with a break of 81, his best of the day compared to a pair of centuries from Fu, who made 135 and 114.
China’s former world number one Ding Junhui closed in on the final by carving out a 14-10 lead over Alan McManus of Scotland.
The 29-year-old could also have been Â£30,000 better off had he completed a maximum break of 147 in the 20th frame but he was undone when he over-cut the 15th black to stall on 113.
McManus earlier reeled in Ding from 9-3 to 9-8, before the momentum switched.
At 45, McManus is the oldest man to reach the last four at the Crucible Theatre venue since Ray Reardon in 1985, and he made breaks of 107, 136 and 125 during a mesmerising morning session.
But Ding refused to yield as he improved the prospect of a first all-Asian World Championship final.