Ronnie O’Sullivan wasn’t near his best but managed a 5-3 victory over James Cahill to qualify for the China Open on Thursday.
The Masters champion compiled a high break of 107 in the third frame to go 2-1 up but otherwise had to scrap his way past his fellow Englishman.
O’Sullivan’s progress means that the 41 year-old looks set to compete at the Beijing ranking event for the first time since 2012.
There were triumphs elsewhere for the 2016 runner-up Ricky Walden, Kyren Wilson, and world no.2 Stuart Bingham – the latter fighting back from 4-3 down to deny veteran James Wattana in a decider.
However, there were a couple of notable upsets on the third day of action at the Preston Guild Hall.
Marco Fu, one of the most in-form players on the circuit at present, suffered a surprise 5-3 defeat to the much-improved Welshman Daniel Wells, despite a run of 137 from the Hong Konger which currently stands as the highest break of the week.
Wells, who struggled badly during his first few seasons as a professional, is experiencing the most prolific period of his career with several wins helping him to the brink of breaking into the world’s top 64 in the rankings list.
The 28 year-old’s more illustrious countryman Ryan Day is out, though, following a 5-2 loss to Fraser Patrick.
The majority of the other results on the penultimate day of action adhered to the rankings seeding.
Dublin’s Fergal O’Brien produced a 101 century as he came from 2-0 down to overcome a tricky obstacle in former World Championship runner-up Nigel Bond, 5-3.
Northern Ireland Open champion Mark King endured little trouble as he hammered amateur Marc Davis 5-1, while Matthew Selt went one better in a whitewash triumph against Craig Steadman.
Chinese duo Zhou Yuelong and Xiao Guodong recorded close victories over Michael Wild and John Astley respectively, but compatriot Mei Wixen won’t be returning to the homeland after being downed 5-3 by Robert Milkins.
Mark Joyce edged Mitchell Mann in a decider while lower ranked trio Noppon Saengkham, Scott Donaldson, and Sandersom Lam all progressed as well.
Friday sees the conclusion of the qualifiers with Stephen Maguire, Joe Swail, and Josh Boileau among those in action.
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