Mark Selby and Ding Junhui
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Mark Selby and Ding Junhui Advance in China

Mark Selby and Ding Junhui are among several big names who remain in the hunt for the International Championship after the last 32 was completed on Tuesday in Daqing.

Mark Selby and Ding Junhui
Ding won the International Championship in 2013. Photo credit: World Snooker

The pair emerged from tight encounters with Robert Milkins and Zhao Xintong respectively with a pair of 6-4 scorelines to remain on course for a potential repeat of the 2016 final, when Selby thrashed the Chinese number one 10-1.

Selby, of course, went on to defend the trophy last season and is looking like a strong candidate to make it a hat-trick of titles in the lucrative ranking event.

The 35 year-old compiled a brace of centuries against Milkins, adding to the three tons that he made against Ken Doherty in the previous round, to set up a last 16 clash with fellow Englishman Stuart Carrington.

Ding also scored well at times as he got the better of the all-Chinese encounter with up-and-coming star Zhao, with fellow former UK and Masters champion Matthew Stevens his next opponent in the competition.

Stevens was one of the few players who didn’t take advantage of the reportedly excellent playing conditions and generous pockets by not tallying any sizable contributions, but the Welshman still was able to win five out of the last six frames to deny Mark King in a decider.

Judd Trump, the 2012 champion back when the International Championship was launched before becoming a permanent fixture on the calendar, was similarly bereft of his usual scoring prowess but was comfortable in a 6-1 outing with Michael Holt.

Trump’s next fixture is a potential barnstormer as he comes up against Yan Bingtao, the 18 year-old who reached the semi-finals last year before narrowly losing in the final of the Northern Ireland Open to Mark Williams in Belfast.

Yan looked to be heading out when he trailed Ryan Day by 55 points in the final frame of their second round affair but produced a wonderfully timed 64 clearance to snatch it at the end of a thrilling battle.

Another intriguing tie to look forward to on Wednesday sees another Chinese teenager up against one of the elite members of the rankings.

Yuan Sijun hammered compatriot Xiao Guodong 6-1 to set up a tie with Australia’s Neil Robertson, who won four out of the last five frames to pip pal Joe Perry in a decider.

By contrast, Alfie Burden was the third day’s heaviest winner thanks to a 6-0 drubbing of amateur David Lilley and the Londoner’s reward is a date with Masters champion Mark Allen, who was runner-up to Selby twelve months ago.

Allen scored a rare 146 break, a record-equalling third of his career, and another total clearance of 142 in seeing off Iran’s Hossein Vafaei 6-3.

Elsewhere, there were close victories for Ali Carter and David Gilbert over Scottish pair Stephen Maguire and Eden Sharav respectively while Martin Gould beat Barry Hawkins and Jack Lisowski accounted for Marco Fu.

Lisowski’s triumph could prove important in the Race to the Masters with the Riga Masters runner-up just one place short of an invitation to the prestigious invitational in January.

Live coverage continues on Eurosport.

Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)



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World Rankings Top 16

World Rankings after the Northern Ireland Open – won by Mark Allen.

1. Judd Trump
2. Mark Selby
3. Ronnie O’Sullivan
4. Neil Robertson
5. Kyren Wilson
6. John Higgins
7. Shaun Murphy
8. Stephen Maguire
9. Mark Allen
10. Ding Junhui
11. Mark Williams
12. Stuart Bingham
13. Yan Bingtao
14. Barry Hawkins
15. Jack Lisowski
16. Anthony McGill

Fin Ruane Snooker Academy