The world number two hasn’t lost in the event since 2017.
Judd Trump provided a harsh lesson for teenager Gao Yang as he produced a faultless 4-0 victory in the last 64 of the Northern Ireland Open on Tuesday.
The defending champion left his opponent pointless, easily winning the affair at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast thanks to contributions of 100, 60, 54, and 52.
Bristol’s Trump, who also beat Gao in last year’s edition with three tons including a 147 break, is bidding for a fourth Northern Ireland Open crown on the trot after previous successes in 2018, 2019, and 2020 – with his streak of match wins in the tournament now standing at 23.
The 32 year-old will next face a more experienced Chinese competitor in the form of Lu Ning, with a berth in the last 16 at stake for the winner.
Home favourite Mark Allen also made it through his second test this week, although he was made to work quite a bit harder for a 4-2 triumph against Peter Devlin.
Allen, who compiled a terrific 147 break during his first-round victory, was not at his best but survived a late comeback from the challenger to prevail.
Elsewhere, marquee names Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy, Stephen Maguire, and Stuart Bingham all managed to stay alive in the tournament as well.
Robertson thrashed Xu Si 4-0 and there were deciding-frame victories for Murphy and Maguire, with Bingham avoiding being taken the distance with a 4-2 ousting of Sam Craigie.
The performance of the day, other than Trump’s, arguably came from Championship League winner David Gilbert, whose resurgence looks on course to continue after a one-sided whitewash win against David Grace in which the Angry Farmer compiled runs of 127, 66, 62, and 51.
Among the others to creep beyond this hurdle of the competition were Jack Lisowski, Ricky Walden, and Matthew Stevens – all surviving in tight battles.
On a frenetic day full of drama, Jimmy Robertson, Louis Heathcote, Jackson Page, and Jak Jones also edged through – the latter courtesy of a 4-2 defeat of Martin Gould.
The action continues on Wednesday, with the likes of Trump, Mark Selby, Ronnie O’Sullivan, and John Higgins rejoining the fray.
Live coverage in Ireland and the UK continues on Eurosport and Quest TV.
Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)
Featured photo credit: WST