Ronnie O’Sullivan scraped past Xiao Guodong in his opening match of the 2016 International Championship on Monday.
The ‘Rocket’ sped into a 3-1 lead with breaks of 137, 78 and 55 but lost his way somewhat as his Chinese challenger fought back to almost force a decider.
Indeed, Xiao was a pot away on a couple of occasions from making it 5-5 but O’Sullivan was able to tie the tenth frame to enable a re-spotted black, in which Xiao unluckily went in-off to forfeit the encounter in the most anticlimactic of circumstances.
The majority of the home crowd in Daqing wasn’t disappointed with the outcome, though, despite the fact that it was one of their own who fell victim to the five-time world champion.
O’Sullivan was mobbed by frenzied fans desperately seeking a signature from the most gifted player of all time, so exuberant that security had to enter the arena and contain the situation.
Ronnie will undoubtedly be unhappy in the manner at which he finished the tie but he is into the next round and there is plenty of time for the former world no.1 to work his way into the lucrative ranking event.
In all, it was a great day for the marquee names with the likes of Mark Selby, Judd Trump and Ding Junhui all progressing to the last 32.
Ding narrowly avoided exiting the event on Sunday in his held over preliminary stage as he fought back from 5-2 down to deny Mitchell Mann, but he was in far superior form today -routing another Englishman David Grace 6-1.
Indeed, it could have been a much better evening for the Shanghai Masters champion if he hadn’t missed a relatively routine brown off its spot when on course for a 147 in front of his legion of supporters.
Selby and Higgins also recorded comfortable enough wins of their own over Alfie Burden and Eden Sharav respectively.
Meanwhile, Judd Trump and Stuart Bingham continued their sound form of late by dispatching of two of yesterday’s amateur wildcard winners – Yuan Sijun and Zhang Jiankang.
Yet, two-time world champion Mark Williams failed to advance, losing the last two frames in a 6-5 defeat to another wildcard Xu Si.
English Open winner Liang Wenbo was also threatened before emerging from a second successive decider against countryman Chen Zifan.
Elsewhere, Ricky Walden withstood a mini comeback from Ken Doherty to oust the Irishman 6-3 and confound his current misery in the world rankings.
Joe Perry required all 11 frames to squeeze past Andrew Higginson while Anthony Hamilton, Daniel Wells, Li Hang and Aditya Mehta each booked their places in the second round – the latter with an impressive 6-2 victory over Ryan Day.
John Astley upset Mark King 6-4 in the last to be completed clashes.