Mark Allen reached the second round of the World Championship on Monday with a 10-6 victory over Scott Donaldson.
The Northern Irishman was slow to get going in the first session but battled well and finished with two late tons to lead 5-4.
Donaldson will perhaps rue a missed opportunity to stamp his authority on the contest early on, and Allen subsequently took control.
The Northern Ireland Open champion will next face Ronnie O’Sullivan, who Allen beat at the same stage 13 years ago on his only run to the last four in Sheffield.
“It was a bit of a scrap today,” Mark Allen told the World Snooker Tour soon after his victory at the Crucible.
“I think I played better than what I think I played – my numbers are good, my stats were good – so maybe I need to give myself a little bit more credit.”
“I feel like there are one or two shots that I’d like back in the match that I probably should have got, but in general it wasn’t that bad.
“My safety really improved as the match went on, my long potting was really good all day, and I just missed one or two shots when I was in.
“It was the difference between winning comfortably today and making hard work for myself.
“I felt like there were a numbers of frames where I was in and played a poor positional shot, and then Scott would get in control and win the frame.
“On another day, I know that I should be winning those frames on my first visit, and that was hard, but I felt like I applied myself really well.
“I felt really edgy at the start of that match, and that’s something that the World Championships can do to you that no other tournament can do.
“I just need to find a way of handling it better. I feel like I’ve come in with a better mindset this year that I was prepared to get 10 frames – no matter how ugly it was.
“I really am (looking forward to playing Ronnie), and obviously it’s the ultimate test.
“You’d love to have an easier match, but you also love to play the very best on the biggest stage, and there’s no doubt that Ronnie is that.
“He’s chasing his own part of history this year and trying to equal Stephen Hendry’s record at seven.
“I believe he will do it at some point in his career anyway, but it would be nice to put paid to that chance this year myself.”
Elsewhere on day three of the World Championship, Mark Williams completed a routine 10-3 victory over Michael White.
The Welshman scored four tons during the encounter and will face another countryman in round two – 20 year-old debutant Jackson Page.
Earlier on Monday, Anthony McGill emerged from a gruelling battle with Liam Highfield as the 10-7 winner.
The Scot didn’t play particularly well but survived the opening test and will face either Judd Trump or Hossein Vafaei in the last 16.
Neil Robertson and Stuart Bingham, meanwhile, established first-session 6-3 advantages over Ashley Hugill and Lyu Haotian respectively.
Featured photo credit: WST