Mark Allen won the last four frames to beat Cao Yupeng 4-1 in the first round of the World Grand Prix on Tuesday – setting up a next encounter with Mark Selby.
The Pistol, winner of the Northern Ireland Open earlier in the campaign, lost the opening frame to a break of 86 from his opponent but reeled off the remaining frames with runs of 114 and 79.
Having been burdened with serious off-table issues this year, the Antrim man will probably be glad to see the back of 2021 but will look to end the year in style on the baize.
Allen faces world number one Selby in a mouthwatering tie after the Jester got his week off to the perfect start courtesy of a 4-1 beating of former World Grand Prix champion Barry Hawkins.
In the same quarter of the draw is Judd Trump, who came from behind to beat Ben Woollaston on the second day of action in Coventry.
Trump’s 4-2 scoreline was matched by Tom Ford in his unexpected defeat of John Higgins – the Englishman firing in contributions of 130, 75, and 71 to outscore last weekend’s Scottish Open runner-up.
Among the others to make it through were Neil Robertson and Stephen Maguire, who each enjoyed routine outings while recording respective 4-0 victories over Noppon Saengkham and Anthony McGill.
Stuart Bingham and Ali Carter, both former finalists in the competition, advanced too with Bingham edging out Ricky Walden in a decider and the Captain defeating Championship League winner David Gilbert.
On Wednesday, the second round will commence but before that there will be the climax to round one, with Ronnie O’Sullivan entering the fray against Andy Hicks and the in-form Luca Brecel being challenged by Jordan Brown.
Zhao Xintong 2-4 Martin Gould
Yan Bingtao 4-1
Mark King Kyren Wilson 3-4 Anthony Hamilton
Neil Robertson 4-0
Mark Allen 4-1
Cao Yupeng Barry Hawkins 1-4 Mark Selby
Judd Trump 4-2
Ben Woollaston John Higgins 2-4 Tom Ford Mark Williams 3-4 Jack Lisowski Anthony McGill 0-4 Stephen Maguire Ricky Walden 3-4 Stuart Bingham David Gilbert 1-4 Ali Carter
Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Andy Hicks
Gary Wilson vs Hossein Vafaei
Jimmy Robertson vs Matthew Selt
Luca Brecel vs Jordan Brown
Live coverage continues in the UK and Ireland on ITV4.
Featured photo credit: WST