Reanne Evans gave Ken Doherty a major fright but her bid to become the first woman to qualify for the World Championship ended in valiant defeat on Thursday.
The 29-year-old mother-of-one from Dudley was handed a discretionary place in the 128-strong field of players bidding to join the sport's leading stars at the Crucible, after winning 10 consecutive ladies' world titles.
A shock outcome looked on the cards when Evans led 3-1 and 4-3 in the early stages at the Ponds Forge venue in Sheffield, a short walk from snooker's most famous venue.
However 1997 world champion Doherty recovered to nudge ahead 5-4 by the end of the morning session and, despite Evans making it tense, the Dubliner returned in the evening to complete a 10-8 victory.
The 45-year-old must still battle through two more rounds to reach the first-round stage of the main event, but for Evans the quest is over.
Bowing out means Evans can play in the Ladies' World Championship in Leeds, which begins on 17 April, but she has won that title in each of the last 10 years and was keen to prove herself against the elite men.
Drawing Doherty in the first round meant she tackled an opponent unlikely to suffer an attack of nerves, which can afflict players of limited experience once the Crucible comes into sight. It was arguably as tough an assignment as she might have faced.
Once Doherty inched in front at the halfway point, he might have been expected to pull away, but when Evans was at the table in the 16th frame she seemed set to level at eight frames each.
She led by 50 points but Doherty battled his way back, and took a crucial frame to lead 9-7.
Since losing in the first round to Liang Wenbo in 2008, the popular Irishman has qualified in alternate years. Were that sequence to continue he would miss out this time.
Evans ensured his jitters only increased by pulling it back to 9-8 and then leading 52-17 at one point when she looked destined to take it to a deciding frame.
Doherty fought back to 44-52, but a miss on the brown set up a topsy-turvy game of brinkmanship that Evans seemed to be edging at 61-50, before Doherty summoned a successful snooker on the pink and snatched the frame 63-61.
For more on Ken Doherty, listen to Dave Kelly's interview as part of the new Different Class series.