Judd Trump held off a spirited fight back from Liang Wenbo to advance to the quarter-finals in the prestigious Masters with a 6-4 victory on Monday.
The 28 year-old was in a seemingly commanding position when he led Liang 5-1 thanks to four half-century breaks but the Chinese came storming back and briefly put the outcome of the tie in doubt.
Liang scored a couple of 50 breaks to keep the match alive in the seventh frame before firing in successive centuries, the first a terrific 139 that stands as the highest break of the tournament so far, to help him retrieve the situation to being just one frame adrift.
But Trump capitalised on a rare miss from his opponent, making a crucial 85 in the tenth frame to avoid the decider that helped him move forward to the last eight stage where he’ll meet either Shaun Murphy or Ali Carter.
Trump was one of the form players of 2017 with runs to the finals of five ranking events but his performances in the Triple Crown events were terrible, so the Englishman will be desperate to improve on that this year.
To say that a return of only one major title from his career so far marks a disappointment is an understatement and it’s about time that Trump began to add to his sole UK Championship crown from 2011.
He certainly has the talent and the ability to lift more silverware on the bigger stages but whether or not he has the composure to see it through when it matters the most remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, former Masters champion Ding Junhui crashed out at the opening hurdle again, the sixth time since his success seven years ago that the Chinese number one has fallen in the last 16.
Ding’s form had been questionable coming into this week but he seemed set to take advantage of some early nerves from his opponent Ryan Day, who was featuring in the elite field in London for the first time in eight years.
Ding started the contest with a 111 and was 3-0 up as he gratefully mopped up Day’s numerous initial mistakes but the Welshman crucially won the fourth frame before the mid-session interval with a nerve-settling 79 that turned the match on its head.
After the restart, the Riga Masters champion was a renewed force and he compiled back-to-back tons to bring the scorelines back to parity, before stealing a couple of close frames to move to within one of glory.
Ding finally responded with a 100 to get back to within one frame but Day was not to be denied, constructing a brilliant 115 to seal what turned out to be an impressive 6-4 win.
It represents only the second time that the 37 year-old has gone beyond the first round and his reward will definitely be a date with a Scotsman – either John Higgins or Anthony McGill who play each other on Wednesday.
Before that, the “Rocket” makes his landing at the Alexandra Palace on Tuesday as the two-time defending champion commences his bid for an unbeaten hat-trick against Marco Fu.
Ronnie O’Sullivan has captured a record seven Masters crowns in total, making twelve final appearances since his debut in the competition in 1993.
Against Fu, the 42 year-old comes up against a player who once enjoyed a strong record over the five-time world champion but whose last victory over O’Sullivan dates way back to 2009.
If O’Sullivan can carry forward his brilliant standard from the tail end of last year, when he collected three ranking event trophies in quick succession, there’ll be only one winner in front of what will surely be a partisan crowd in the Englishman’s backyard.
Later in the evening match, Barry Hawkins and Kyren Wilson clash in an all-English affair in which both players will likely fancy their chances of progressing further.
Wilson, twice a ranking event runner-up from this campaign, has qualified for the Masters for only the second time and will be hoping to record his maiden victory at the Ally Pally when he challenges the 2016 finalist.
The stats are in favour of Hawkins, though, with the 38 year-old boasting a superior head-to-head advantage, including a win in their last meeting en route to success in the 2017 World Grand Prix.
Live coverage continues on the BBC and Eurosport.
Click here to view the draw. (Times: CET)