Marco Fu became the first name into the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship after a 13-9 victory over Anthony McGill on Friday.
The Hong Kong 38 year-old was in control of the contest after somewhat fortuitously emerging from the second session with a two-frame lead intact despite his opponent having many chances to ensure that proceedings were level.
Indeed, McGill will look back on that session as his missed opportunity.
After fighting back from 5-3 down to lead for the first time at 6-5 it looked as though he was going to establish a serious foothold on the encounter.
However, he surrendered two frames in the remainder of the second session in which he really should have won to fall 9-7 behind instead of at the very least being on an even keel with the struggling two-time ranking event winner.
Despite a 97 break upon the game’s resumption reducing McGill’s arrears to one again, the experienced Fu pulled away with a break of 56 and a century to go to within one of victory at 12-8.
McGill prolonged the inevitable by a frame before a 69 was enough to see Fu into the last eight.
Fu scored a brace of tons during the tie but his performance was a shadow of that which saw him destroy Peter Ebdon 10-2 in the opening round.
Without doubt, he’ll have to rediscover that kind of form again if he is to reach only his second semi-final at the Crucible – with Ronnie O’Sullivan his likely upcoming challenge.
Elsewhere, three other last 16 clashes are well under way.
Ali Carter and Alan McManus played out a drab second session before concluding as it began, with the ‘Captain’ boasting a two frame cushion – on this occasion, leading 9-7 overnight.
McManus will rue a multitude of missed opportunities to draw level but will still feel well in contention as Carter has not played anywhere near his best.
The 36 year-old has been efficient at one thing, feeding off the scraps that his Scottish opponent leaves, of which there have been many.
That said, the players have cause to complain about the conditions, with kicks, bad contacts and heavy bounces off the cushions all too regular an occurrence.
Indeed, I struggle to remember a tournament, certainly in the UK, where the conditions from the very outset of the event have been this poor.
Meanwhile, Mark Williams fought his own struggles to come from 4-1 down to lead Michael Holt 10-6 after their first two periods of squabble.
Neither player produced anywhere near their A-game but Holt will be left looking back at his chances to extend a 4-1 lead when the Williams was on the ropes and badly struggling.
In the end, the Welshman’s far superior experience at this stage proved the decisive factor and the 41 year-old is well on course for a seventh appearance in the last eight.
Finally, Mark Selby found it difficult to shake off lowly ranked qualifier Sam Baird as their opening bout of play ended 4-4.
In fact, it was Baird who scored the heavier as he came from a frame behind on four separate occasions with tallies of 53, 58, 100 and 85 to ensure parity against the world no.1.