Yan Bingtao expressed his relief at being ranked as a top 16 seed at the 2022 World Championship in Sheffield.
The former Masters champion didn’t enter the Gibraltar Open in March, a decision that was queried with puzzlement by many at the time.
Different permutations would have resulted in Yan losing his spot among the top 16, including Ricky Walden capturing the title in Gibraltar.
But Yan duly held on to the coveted position, thus gaining automatic qualification for this year’s edition of the blue-riband event at the Crucible.
“It was very lucky for me, because I didn’t go to the Gibraltar Open,” Yan Bingtao told the World Snooker Tour.
“Ricky Walden played the semi-final, and if he won the title I’m 17 (in the rankings) and would need to qualify.”
“I don’t like to qualify, because I think qualifying is very difficult for everyone, but in the semi-final he lost to Kyren Wilson.
“I think this is very luck for me – thank you, Ricky.”
Yan took full advantage of his opportunity by winning an entertaining first-round clash with Chris Wakelin 10-6 on Tuesday.
The 21 year-old only led 5-4 after a high-quality opening session in which his opponent conjured three brilliant frame-winning clearances.
But Yan controlled the second session to ease his way through to the second round, where he’ll encounter defending world champion Mark Selby.
Meanwhile, pre-tournament favourite Neil Robertson advanced to the last 16 on day four with a 10-5 triumph over debutant Ashley Hugill.
Robertson looked to be coasting when he won eight frames on the trot to lead 9-3, but a few errors crept into the Australian’s game with the winning line in sight.
Still, there was far too much work for Hugill to do, and although he rallied well, the Melbourne man safely progressed.
Robertson’s fellow former world champion Stuart Bingham repeated the same 10-5 scoreline later on with his defeat of Lyu Haotian.
Bingham won a crucial and close 14th frame to halt any hopes of a comeback from the challenger, before wrapping up the success in the next frame.
Elsewhere, Jack Lisowski leads Matthew Stevens 6-3 after their opening session of play.
Four-time champion John Higgins is in some bother, though, with the Scot trailing Thepchaiya Un-Nooh by a single frame overnight.
Those two fixtures reach their conclusions on Wednesday, while the remaining three matches from the last 32 all get under way as well.
Kyren Wilson plays Ding Junhui and Judd Trump battles with Hossein Vafaei in two of the ties of the round.
Luca Brecel searches for his maiden Crucible victory in the other match, with the Belgian in action against Noppon Saengkham.
Featured photo credit: WST