Ding Junhui came from 4-2 behind to overcome India’s Pankaj Advani in a second round decider in the Haikou World Open.
The Chinese Sensation, who has four ranking event titles this season, two in his native country, just pipped his opponent in an encounter of high scoring.
Advani looked to be on course for a monumental victory when breaks of 86 and 74 gave him a two frame cushion and within one of the last 16.
However, Ding won a scrappy seventh frame to stay alive before runs of 136 and 86 ensured he remains on course to equal Stephen Hendry’s record of five ranking event wins in a single season.
The 26 year-old, of course, had the opportunity to do so earlier this month in the Welsh Open but came up against a formidable Ronnie O’Sullivan at the final hurdle.
The ‘Rocket’, though, is absent from this tournament as he continues his schedule of predominantly only playing in the British or European-staged events.
This will give Ding confidence to believe that he can now go on and equal the record, despite the fact that many will argue it is tainted with the absence of the world champion.
Nevertheless, the record would still be quite an incredible achievement should he be successful while another one that looks even more ominously likely is Neil Robertson’s quest for a century of tons in one campaign.
The Australian added two more today in his 5-1 triumph over Rory McLeod to move to 91, only nine away from the magical target.
It would take a dramatic drop in form for the UK champion to fail in his attempt, with three ranking events still remaining after the World Open.
Elsewhere, it was a mixed day for the seeds all round as several of the top players went by the wayside.
Crucible runner-up Barry Hawkins endured a 5-4 loss to Mark Joyce while fellow Englishman Stuart Bingham suffered the same fate in a similar scoreline to Dominic Dale – the Shootout champion.
Other members of the top 16 Robert Milkns and Mark Davis were also casualties of round two, both defeated by two players showing improved form this season in Alan McManus and Liang Wenbo respectively, while Ali Carter was downed 5-2 by the dangerous Kurt Maflin.
Scotland’s John Higgins has been playing better of late as well and was rarely troubled in a 5-0 whitewash over Michael White while Mark Selby saw off Noppon Saengkham 5-2.
Two-time defending champion Mark Allen made it 12 wins in the event on the trot with a 5-3 win over Mark Williams to set up a clash with Ricky Walden, who had too much in a comfortable defeat of Ireland’s Ken Doherty.
The only other ranking event winner other than the big three – Ding, Robertson and O’Sullivan – Marco Fu came from behind to overturn Michael Holt 5-3 while Judd Trump also fought back to edge Matthew Stevens in a decider.
Meanwhile, former world champions Shaun Murphy and Graeme Dott eased their way into the third round – the former with the daunting prospect of having to play Ding for a place in the quarter-finals.