A dramatic third day of action in the International Championship qualifiers saw four matches go the distance at the Preston Guild Hall on Thursday.
Fifth seed Shaun Murphy wasn’t among that quartet, indeed the twice ranking event finalist from this campaign wasted little time as he routed Matthew Bolton 6-0.
The “Magician” compiled breaks of 104 and 62 in the process of whitewashing the Australian and booking his place at one of the most lucrative tournaments on the calendar.
For the 2014 champion Ricky Walden, it wasn’t so straightforward.
The Englishman, who is starting to see a turnaround in his results after a dismal spell on the circuit through injury, fought back from 3-0 and 5-3 down to beat Billy Joe Castle in a deciding frame thriller.
Walden didn’t even boast a single break above 50 in a scrappy affair but showed his experience against the rookie when he came back to steal it at the death.
Ireland’s Fergal O’Brien lost four out of the last five frames, though, as he succumbed to a 6-5 defeat to Zhang Yong of China.
In a low-scoring final frame shootout, both players had numerous chances before the 22 year-old clinched it on the colours.
Matthew Selt and Lee Walker also prevailed over the scheduled eleven frames, beating Alexander Ursenbacher and Stuart Carrington respectively.
Selt fired in a century and four further runs above 50 as he denied the talented Swiss a spot in Daqing, while Welshman Walker continued with the form that saw him stun Mark Selby last week in Yushan.
Elsewhere, Ali Carter enjoyed a much easier time of it as he hammered Jamie Curtis Barrett 6-0, while Mark Allen emerged from a hard-fought battle with veteran Peter Lines 6-3.
Barry Hawkins also qualified with a 6-3 triumph against Hammad Miah in a tie that finished approaching 1am due to some of the late-running afternoon sessions earlier in the day.
Hawkins constructed a brace of tons and led 4-0 and 5-1, but his challenger briefly put the result in doubt with a late rally passed midnight.
Among the others to advance were Peter Ebdon, Rory McLeod, and Kurt Maflin.
Ebdon denied Fang Xiongman a place in one of his home tournaments with a 6-4 victory while McLeod repeated the scoreline against Ross Muir.
Norway’s Maflin was more convincing in a 6-2 victory over Joe Swail that included a 117 in the last frame.
Cao Yupeng, Jimmy Robertson, Mark Joyce, Sanderson Lam, and Ian Preece also ensured their safe passage into the last 64 next month.
On Friday, the qualifying round will conclude with the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Kyren Wilson, and Luca Brecel entering the fray.
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