A dramatic opening night at the World Grand Prix saw Ronnie O’Sullivan edge through to the second round at the Centaur in Cheltenham on Monday.
Fellow former world champion Mark Selby is out, though, as well as UK Championship runner-up Stephen Maguire.
All three ties lasted the full best of seven frames distance, with contrasting fortunes for the three members of the top 16.
O’Sullivan, who hasn’t participated much this season so far, was competing in 2020 for the first time and opened the tournament against David Gilbert.
The pair shared the first two tight frames before O’Sullivan pulled away without showing his best to lead 3-1.
Gilbert responded with immediate contributions of 69 and 115 to force the deciding frame, in which the “Rocket” composed himself with a magnificent 129 to advance to the last 16.
O’Sullivan triumphed in the 2018 World Grand Prix and needs a good run this week to help his cause in the Coral Series order of merit.
The Coral Series comprises the World Grand Prix, the Players Championship, and the Tour Championship.
Only the top 16 competitors on the one-year rankings list will be invited to compete in the second event later in February, which O’Sullivan is the reigning champion in, but the 44 year-old is currently 19th on the provisional standings.
Ronnie O’Sullivan felt like the underdog coming into his first round match with David Gilbert, but he’s enjoying his snooker and happy to get through to the last 16 👌 #CoralSnookerSeries pic.twitter.com/RACAJcrpxx
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) February 3, 2020
Meanwhile, Selby is out after a high-quality battle with Xiao Guodong concluded with the Chinese cueist snatching victory in the last frame.
A scoring fest for the first six frames, Selby’s tallies of 131, 111, and 83 were countered by his opponent’s runs of 101, 89, and 78.
The decider was an understandably more cagey affair but Xiao held his nerve against the player known as the master of brinkmanship.
For Maguire, the Scot squandered a seemingly comfortable position when he let Tom Ford retrieve a 3-1 deficit.
Maguire looked to be coasting but frustrations got the better of him later in the match as Ford completed the turnaround.
Elsewhere, the only other encounter saw Gary Wilson overcome Zhou Yuelong with a 4-1 scoreline.
Zhou wasn’t able to bounce back from his humiliating 9-0 defeat in the final of the European Masters to Neil Robertson last month, as Wilson boosted his chances of rising into the elite top 16 of the world rankings for the first time in his career.
Tuesday is a busier day with eight matches in the first round set to be completed.
The likes of Robertson and Judd Trump will be in action, only a couple of days after they clashed in the German Masters final in Berlin.