Mark Selby came from 3-0 down to overcome Ian Burns 5-4 in a low-quality affair at the Australian Open in Bendigo.
In a match that lasted more than four hours, Selby looked to be heading for a second opening round exit in succession when Burns, in the last 32 of a ranking event for only the third time, raced into a 3-0 lead.
At that stage, Selby’s pot success was hovering around the 70% mark while his opponent was knocking in balls for fun.
But the ‘Jester from Leicester’ did what he does best and began to grind down the challenge, beginning in the fourth frame which he took to reduce the gap to two frames at the interval.
The frames began to get longer, which suited the UK and Masters champion as experience became a key component in the outcome.
When Selby leveled at 3-3 one would have forgiven Burns for capitulating but he battled hard and punished further uncharacteristic mistakes from the world no.2 to regain the lead and go within one of a famous victory.
However, despite having several chances in the eighth, the pressure on Burns’ shoulders started to tell and he wasted his big opportunity for glory.
Once Selby cleared with a 63 to force the decider there was only going to be one likely winner – and so it proved.
Elsewhere, Dublin’s Fergal O’Brien also came through a tough test to see off Ricky Walden by the odd frame 5-4 and reach the last 16 Down Under.
The 41 year-old established an early 2-0 advantage and was able to shepherd that lead home in typically determined fashion.
The Irishman has got Welshman Dominic Dale in the next round so will be fancying his chances of a run to the business end of a ranker for the first time in quite a while.
Dale himself also needed a final frame nail-biter to progress to the second round after coming from behind to beat a somewhat rejuvenated Mike Dunn, who endured a nightmare campaign last year.
The other three results were relatively more straightforward.
Former world champion Shaun Murphy, who was extremely chatty in the commentary box for Selby’s game (extremely!), hammered an out-of-sorts Michael White 5-1 while the in-form Joe Perry went one better and whitewashed Xiao Guodong 5-0.
So far this season Englishman Perry has won a PTC event in Asia and reached the quarter-finals at the Wuxi Classic last month.
The 38 year-old has been the sort of player throughout his career who, when he finds confidence, he can go on amazing runs of form and be one of the most difficult on the table to beat.
Finally, Alfie Burden will be hoping to reach the quarter-finals of a ranking tournament for the first time in his long career after he emerged from the round of 32 with a solid 5-2 triumph over Michael Holt – aided by a top run of 136, the highest break so far this week.
Tomorrow, the first round comes to a conclusion with Ken Doherty among those in action.
The full draw and list of results can be viewed by clicking here.