Mark Selby survived a scare before advancing to the third round of the European Masters on Wednesday following a 4-3 victory over Lu Haotian in Belgium.
John Higgins crashed out, though, becoming the biggest casualty of the tournament so far after a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Mark Davis.
On a busy third day of action in Lommel, defending champion Judd Trump and Mark Williams also progressed in nail biters while Luca Brecel maintained his chances of producing what would be a popular triumph on home soil.
For Selby, the world champion needed all of his battling qualities to see off his young Chinese opponent in a decider.
The world number one compiled four century breaks in his previous encounter and it was another ton that helped him force the shoot out frame with Lu that he eventually scrambled passed the winning post in.
Selby hasn’t gone beyond the last 16 of a ranking event this season so will have another opportunity to reach a quarter-final when he takes on Jack Lisowski on Thursday – the latter a 4-2 winner against Joe Perry.
Trump, champion twelve months ago when the competition was staged in Romania, was forced to fight back from behind as well.
The 28 year-old looked in trouble when he trailed Martin O’Donnell 3-1 but dominated the final three frames to keep his hopes of a successful defence alive.
Welshman Williams required all the allotted frames too as he just about held on to pip Ross Muir 4-3 on the final colours.
Brecel, who had already featured in two deciding frame thrillers of his own this week, enjoyed a much more comfortable time of it courtesy of a 4-1 victory over Chris Wakelin.
The China Championship winner compiled breaks of 75, 71, and 53 and will be growing in confidence as he continues to please his legion of followers in Belgium.
Higgins, though, suffered a 4-1 loss to Davis despite taking the opening frame, perhaps opening up that quarter of the draw for countryman Anthony McGill, who recorded a 4-0 scoreline against Alfie Burden.
McGill has been one of the form players of the season and will be the favourite now in his section to emerge with a semi-final spot.
Australia’s Neil Robertson sealed a whitewash win of his own, wrapping up a drubbing of Peter Ebdon with an excellent 129 to prolong his improved form.
Robertson will clash with Williams at the next hurdle in an intriguing tie between two former world champions and world number ones.
Meanwhile, Stuart Bingham and Mark Allen progressed with comprehensive triumphs against Graeme Dott and Alan McManus respectively, ensuring that the field has a high-quality feel to it as the business end approaches.
Among the other names to reach the third round were Zhou Yuelong and David Gilbert, two men who will be hoping to challenge the elite this campaign and perhaps capture a maiden ranking title of their own.
Finally, Peter Lines scraped passed Thepchaiya Un-Nooh late in the day while Ben Woollaston, Cao Yupeng, and rookie Billy Joe Castle were also victorious.
Live coverage continues on Eurosport.
Categories: Snooker News