Judd Trump survived a scare but came from 3-0 down to beat Barry Hawkins 5-3 at the Shanghai Masters in China.
Trump, who has struggled for consistency ever since winning his first major title at the UK Championship last December, looked to be heading for an early exit when a mixture of his own poor play and his opponent’s efficiency provided him with an early mountain to climb.
However, after taking the last frame before the mid-session interval the 23 year-old enjoyed renewed vigour around the table and reeled off the next four frames in relatively comfortable fashion to see off the recent Australian Open champion.
Trump still has a lot to improve on before he reaches the dizzying heights of 2011 but he’ll be content to at least get by what was a tricky opening round clash.
That said, it doesn’t get any easier for the world no.2 as waiting for him in the last 16 is the player he memorably beat to lift that UK title in York – Mark Allen.
It is almost a travesty that two of the most exciting players in the game should meet so early on in a tournament but it is testament to how many contenders there are nowadays for each ranking event.
Indeed, six of the other seven victors on day three have all enjoyed the feeling of lifting a ranking event trophy over their heads.
World champions John Higgins, Neil Robertson and Graeme Dott all registered 5-2 triumphs with the former in particular showing a morale-boosting return to form.
The Scot trailed Jamie Jones 2-1 but snatched a tight fourth and was invincible after the interval – recording three fluent breaks of 70 or above.
Higgins’ confidence was at an all-time low last season as he failed to go beyond the quarter-final stage of any event.
But the 37 year-old took an extended break away from the game after his dismal defeat to Stephen Hendry in the World Championship and appears to have been refreshed and galvanised by the respite.
At this stage of a career it is often difficult to maintain consistency so any expectation should be labelled with a degree of caution but the signs are at least promising for the four-time world champ.
Higgins will next play Ryan Day after the Welshman claimed a topsy-turvy tie with Martin Gould 5-4 – aided by two century breaks of 130 and 103.
Elsewhere, Stuart Bingham and Ricky Walden also went the distance in their respective defeats of Tom Ford and Steve Davis while Stephen Lee edged out Marcus Campbell in a scrappy affair 5-3.
The full draw and results can be viewed by clicking here.
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