Ding Junhui and Mark Allen remain in the hunt for UK Championship glory after coming through their respective third round ties unscathed on Tuesday in York.
Earlier in the day, former champions Judd Trump and Neil Robertson also advanced to ensure that ten players from the top 16 in the world rankings will feature in the fourth round line-up.
China’s Ding Junhui, the champion in 2005 and 2009, raced into a 3-0 lead against countryman Xiao Guodong but had to withstand a spirited fightback from his opponent to prevail by a narrow 6-4 scoreline.
Ding hasn’t demonstrated much form this season so far and started off slowly in this tournament but is working his way through the rounds and will be the favourite again in his last 16 tie against Martin O’Donnell on Wednesday.
It was even closer for another two-time UK Championship winner in Robertson, who survived a topsy-turvy affair with Graeme Dott to deny the Scot in a decider.
In a repeat of their 2010 World Championship final, the pair traded a number of big breaks and there was never more than a frame between them after the mid-session interval, but the Australian won three out of the last four frames to emerge victorious.
Allen and Trump, who contested a memorable final seven years ago when the latter claimed his only Triple Crown title to date, enjoyed slightly more comfortable outings as they earned 6-2 triumphs over Hossein Vafaei and Mark King respectively.
“Maybe this year is a little bit different.”
Could @judd147t be on course for a second UK crown? Aiming for back-to-back titles, he’s through to the Last 16 for the first time here since reaching the final in ’13 #baizeofglory @betway pic.twitter.com/R8umuO2oks
— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) December 4, 2018
Elsewhere, there were wins too for Barry Hawkins and Stuart Bingham as the UK Championship recovered from the early demise of a few marquee names to provide a high-quality field towards the business end of proceedings.
Bingham compiled a hat-trick of century breaks in what was arguably the performance of the day to dispatch of David Gilbert while Hawkins also scored heavily with seven contributions above 50 in overcoming Gary Wilson.
Meanwhile, Jack Lisowski took a monstrous step towards a maiden Masters invitation as the “Dude” ousted nearest challenger Marco Fu at the Barbican Centre.
Lisowski has been cradling the 16th and final spot on the provisional Race to the Masters standings and, with Fu only £6,100 behind him in the pecking order prior to their clash, it was crucial that the 27 year-old didn’t slip up.
With so many top 16 players still in the running in York, it’s now becoming increasingly unlikely that Lisowski will be robbed of making his debut appearance at the Alexandra Palace next month in London.
While the Riga Masters runner-up will have his work cut out for him against reigning champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in round four, he can at least take solace in the fact that 19th ranked Joe Perry requires a run to the final and Tom Ford needs to capture the crown outright to upset the current order.
That said, despite being one of the outsiders in the betting for the UK Championship title, Lisowski has been one of the most in-form players of the season and a victory over the “Rocket” could spearhead his challenge for a first ranking crown.
Finally, popular Thai Sunny Akani produced a strong display after a slow start to beat Jak Jones 6-2, reeling off runs of 108, 73, 65, and a brace of 50 breaks in powering past the Welshman.