Home favourite Ding Junhui is into the last 16 of the Shanghai Masters after a dramatic opening day in China.
The tenth edition of the ranking event began with three out of the four first round ties going the distance, made all the more thrilling as the format returned to the traditional best of nines.
Ding, champion in 2013, must have been full of confidence having emerged victorious in the 6 Red World Championship just over a week ago but failed to score heavily in his encounter with Scott Donaldson.
The 29 year-old was in real danger of suffering an early exit but scrambled home by winning two tight final frames for a narrow success to the delight of his legion of fans.
Another former champion wasn’t so fortunate in his decider, though, as Ricky Walden bowed out in nine frames to Michael White.
Welshman White recorded a morale boosting triumph aided by runs of 113 and 101 to see off the 2008 winner and set up a potential last 16 clash with Judd Trump.
David Gilbert was also taken the distance, coming from 4-2 down to upset seed Marco Fu.
Gilbert knocked in runs of 117 and 115 when he was 3-0 down to reduce his arrears initially but it was a mere 50 in the last which was the all important break to help him over the winning post.
The only last 32 bout which didn’t go all the way to the final frame was the encounter between John Higgins and Matthew Selt.
Despite falling 2-0 down, four-time world champion Higgins reeled off five out of the next six for a 5-3 defeat of the Englishman – including the final three frames which could have gone either way.
Of course, as is the norm with these events in China, there was the usual wildcard round whereby lucky locals get the opportunity to compete in an extra round against the very unfortunate qualifiers who had already worked hard to even reach this stage of proceedings back at the preliminaries in Barnsley.
Eight wildcards got the chance on this occasion and, while Anthony McGill, Liang Wenbo and Michael Holt all safely negotiated their tasks, German Masters champion Martin Gould succumbed to a devastating 5-0 loss to 15 year-old Yuan Sijun.
There’s inevitably one wildcard player who will upset the odds in each tournament but this performance, which included a 111 in the opening frame from the teenager, is particularly impressive and automatically highlights the youngster as a player to keep an eye on.
To make matters even more compelling, amateur Yuan will take on the world champion and world no.1 Mark Selby in the first round proper on Tuesday.
Also competing on the second day of action will be Ronnie O’Sullivan, who features for the first time competitively this campaign in an intriguing rematch of his 2009 final victory over Liang Wenbo.