Mark Selby held off a stern challenge from qualifier Sam Baird to reach the quarter-finals of the World Championship in Sheffield.
After a tight opening exchange in which there was never more than a frame between them right up until 6-6, the 2014 champion appeared to gain control of the tie by winning five out of the next six frames for an 11-7 advantage.
However, Baird, who earned his maiden ever victory at the Crucible by beating Michael White in the last 32, fought his way back superbly to level and ensure a tense finale late on Saturday.
Yet, the world no.59’s energy deserted him when he needed it the most and the more experienced Selby scrambled over the winning line 13-11.
It was a draining contest which Selby will feel lucky to have emerged from but the world no.1 will remain a danger man now that he has negotiated the challenge.
Selby scored heavily in spells but his safety was unusually weak, an area where he’ll have to improve on if he wishes to go further in the event.
Meanwhile, twice runner-up Ali Carter suffered a 13-11 defeat to Alan McManus in an encounter riddled with kicks and bad bounces.
The conditions on Table One at the Crucible have been questioned since the outset of the tournament last Saturday but it was never more evident than during this arduous battle on St. George’s Day between the Englishman and the Scot.
McManus, though, typically held his composure much the better as Carter teetered on the edge of implosion at various junctures of the final session.
McManus won the first four frames to overturn a 9-7 deficit into an 11-9 lead and, while Carter didn’t throw in the towel, the 45 year-old Glaswegian had built enough momentum to keep the ‘Captain’ grounded.
It marks McManus’ second quarter-final appearance in three editions of the World Championship and he’ll play either John Higgins or Ricky Walden for a third career trip to the last four – but first since 1993.
Four-time champion Higgins leads Walden 5-3 after their opening session.
Elsewhere, Mark Williams booked his place in the last eight for the first time in five years with a 13-8 triumph over pal Michael Holt.
The pair embraced with a hug as opposed to the customary handshake before each session but it was all business as the two-time champion tellingly pulled away from 6-6 to 11-6.
Holt, after winning two frames on the trot, had a golden opportunity to reduce the gap to only a couple of frames at the last mid-session interval but went in-off after potting frame ball black.
Williams cleared the remaining balls to go to the brink and duly secured his progress with a 58 in the last frame.
Finally, Ronnie O’Sullivan has plenty of work to do as he trails Barry Hawkins 5-3 after their opening bout of play.
In a repeat of the 2013 final, O’Sullivan knocked in runs of 139, 103 and 88 but Hawkins played the better safety as he helped in some way to erase the painful memories of his 10-1 defeat to the ‘Rocket’ in the final of this year’s Masters.
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