Judd Trump said no-one else would have pushed “all-time great” John Higgins as close as he did during their their epic World Championship quarter-final.
The 28-year-old Bristolian led 4-1, 7-3 and 11-9 but lost a Crucible classic 13-12.
“I held my own against him,” the world number four said. “He barely missed a ball all evening and I still got it to 12-12.
“It’s not an opportunity missed – I played as well as I could have played.”
Trump looked fully in control after taking the first two frames of the afternoon session to extend his overnight advantage to 7-3.
But four-time champion Higgins, who beat Trump 18-5 in one of the best World Championship finals of recent years, reeled off five frames in a row to lead 8-7.
A three-frame run saw the left-hander ahead once again, but 30-time ranking event winner Higgins then showed his class with two breaks of 70 and a ton to go 12-11 up.
“I was a bit unlucky to lose in the end,” added Trump, who has lost all of his past seven meetings against the Scot.
“He played really well in the last four or five frames but after I made that clearance at 12-11 down, you just want a chance in the final frame.
“I thought he twitched that red and he left it safe. He plays some amazing snooker at times but I stuck in there. You need the luck against him and time and time again, it just doesn’t happen.
“But apart from against Barry [Hawkins] maybe, given every other session of snooker I’ve seen in this Championship, I would have won it easily.
“I don’t think anyone else in the world would have got that close against him. I held my own. He barely missed a ball all evening and I still got it to 12-12.
“John is an all-time great – either the second or third best ever. He’s playing at his best and I still only just lost – and I was unlucky in the final frame.”
Eight-time ranking event winner Trump has only won one of snooker’s Triple Crown events, the UK Championship in 2011.
He was runner-up in the 2014 UK final and has reached three Masters semi-finals and made two the last four at the Crucible in 2013 and 2015, but he said he needs to deliver trophies.
“There aren’t any positives to take,” Trump added. “I’m 28 years old and I need to start winning these tournaments if I want to be the best. I take no positives from losing.”