Chinese duo Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo set up an intriguing upcoming last 16 clash against one another after emerging from the first round of the World Championship on Tuesday.
Ding laid down the groundwork for an eventual triumph with an excellent first session against another of his countrymen, Zhou Yuelong, compiling a hat-trick of centuries in establishing a 7-2 lead over the teenager.
The 2016 runner-up wasn’t able to maintain the relentless pace in the second session and his young opponent threatened a comeback when he won three out of the next four frames to reduce the gap to just 8-5 down.
But Ding composed himself after the final mid-session interval, taking the following two frames for a comfortable victory overall, and a good workout ahead of sterner challenges ahead.
Liang battled back well from 5-2 down against Stuart Carrington, pulling away from 7-7 to win by three frames against the improving Englishman.
Carrington had sensationally equalled a Crucible record by becoming only the fifth cueist to compile three successive tons when he constructed consecutive runs of 124, 101, and 107.
In the past Liang probably would have crumbled but the 30 year-old is a different force in the game these days after his English Open success earlier in the campaign.
The meeting between Ding and Liang in the second round is sure to create a frenzy back in China, with one of the country’s biggest snooker stars now guaranteed a quarter-final berth.
Meanwhile, John Higgins completed his safe progress despite a mini revival from Martin Gould which threatened to make the encounter more interesting.
Like Ding, Higgins dominated the opening session to lead the former German Masters champion 7-2 but a more attacking Gould offered a small hope of a turnaround when he knocked in runs of 108, 86, and 80 to get back to 9-6 behind.
However, four-time champion Higgins was also scoring heavily, highlighted by a superb run of 127, and an additional break of 82 in the last sealed his success.
Elsewhere, Judd Trump unbelievably let slip a 4-0 cushion to trail Rory McLeod 5-4 overnight.
The pre-tournament favourite appeared to be coasting when he won all four frames before the mid-session interval but his concentration slipped upon the resumption.
Despite his stellar campaign, this isn’t the first time that Trump has squandered a seemingly strong position and he’ll be thankful that the fixture is being played over the longer format so he has time to redeem himself in the second session.
McLeod, though, could prove difficult to crack now that he has his nose in front, and will certainly make it as difficult as possible for the world number two.
Finally, 2006 world champion Graeme Dott earned a 6-3 advantage over Ali Carter in a low scoring affair.
Those two clashes will finish on Wednesday while the remaining contenders will all enter the fray on day five as well.