No ideal birthday gift but I was defeated by better man: Ronnie
Ronnie O'Sullivan's hopes of winning a third successive UK Championship title ended with a 6-4 defeat by Ding Junhui in the last-16 in York.
On his 44th birthday, O'Sullivan recovered from 4-1 down to level at 4-4 but it was China's Ding who won the final two frames to set up a quarter-final with countryman Liang Wenbo.
O'Sullivan, who has won a record seven titles at the event, did not pot a ball in the first three frames as Ding flew out of the blocks.
Back-to-back centuries got the World No.2 back into the contest, and he insisted he was not unhappy with the result.
"I am quite happy with four frames," O'Sullivan said. "I was 4-1 down and he hadn't missed a ball and I was thinking this could a 6-0 or 6-1 mauling on my birthday.
"I got it back to 4-4 and twitched a red and he played well and held himself together.
"Ding is a great player, I'm surprised he hasn't won as much as he has. I'm sure with his quality and pedigree and will to win that will fall into place.
"I was pleased to be involved in a good match, I just wish he had played a worse match!"
Ding has not won a ranking event in more than two years and is down at 16 in the rankings, and he celebrated a "really big win".
"I know I played well in the last round so I was confident," he said. "Ronnie played fantastic but it's a really big win for me. I am very happy. I knew his comeback was on the way. He doesn't miss many when he is making breaks.
"I played really well at the start. He was missing long and gave me easy ones into the pack.
"I did well, he played quite well when I was 4-1 up.
"I love to see games like that. I'm enjoying this even with the pressure. I can't remember when I last played like that."