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Alfie Burden edges out Rhys Clark in thriller as John Higgins and Ricky Walden progress at the China Open

Jonathan Davies in China Open

 Alfie Burden of England celebrates (credit: NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

Alfie Burden of England celebrates (credit: NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

Alfie Burden edged out Rhys Clark 5-4 in a high-quality Last-32 encounter at the 2016 China Open, while John Higgins and Ricky Walden also progressed at the University Students Gymnasium in Beijing.

A real seesaw battle developed between the players ranked 88 and 106 in the world, as a century and seven further breaks over 50 were made before Burden prevailed in the deciding frame.

The Londoner, who has only reached the Last 16 of a major ranking event on five previous occasions during his career, came into this contest off the back of a stunning 5-0 whitewash over world number nine Joe Perry.

He made breaks of 56, 93 and 78 but still found himself 4-3 behind, after young Scotsman Clark produced runs of 78, 83, 57 and 72.

However, a wonderful century of 117 forced a decider where he used his experience to set up a showdown with Ruhr Open champion Rory McLeod, who overcame Mike Dunn 5-2 and avenged his defeat by the Redcar cueist in the opening round of last week’s World Grand Prix.

Elsewhere, Higgins continued his quest for a first China Open title with a comprehensive 5-1 victory over Mark Joyce.

The four-time World Champion, who reached the final of this event in 2006 and 2009, made breaks of 73, 88 and 81 as he swept aside the Walsall cueist.

John Higgins of Scotland looks on (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

Last week’s Players Championship finalist Ricky Walden built on his momentum with a 5-3 win over Ryan Day – ending the Welshman’s hopes of climbing into the top 16 ahead of the World Championship.

The Chester cueist had runs of 76 and 57 along the way, while Kyren Wilson and Matt Selt also saw their hopes of making the cut come to an abrupt end.

Shanghai Masters champion Wilson was comfortably ousted 5-1 by veteran Rod Lawler and the same scoreline saw Selt succumb to an inspired Martin O’Donnell.

Former Welsh Open finalist Ben Woollaston also crashed out, as he was narrowly beaten by Noppon Saengkham 5-4.

Despite sitting through breaks of 67, 106, 51 and 67, the Thai cueist built on his victory over Neil Robertson with a nerveless 64 in the deciding frame.

Meanwhile, there were no such problems for Stephen Maguire, who kept his Top 16 hopes alive with a 5-2 win over Jack Lisowski.

The 2008 winner of this event needs to reach the Semi-Finals this week to overtake Ding Junhui in the world rankings before the seeding cut-off point for the Crucible.

He had very little difficulty against Lisowski as breaks of 60 and 101 helped him take a 4-0 lead at the mid-session interval and, despite a brief fightback from the 2013 Quarter-Finalist, completed his victory with a run of 51.

Earlier in the day, Masters runner-up Barry Hawkins suffered a 5-4 defeat at the hands of local favourite Tian Pengfei, while breaks of 78 and 73 saw World Grand Prix champion Shaun Murphy past UK Championship Semi-Finalist David Grace 5-3.

China Open 2016 Results

Wednesday March 30

Round One

Barry Hawkins 4-5 Tian Pengfei (Match 33)

David Grace 3-5 Shaun Murphy (Match 24)

Second Round

Jack Lisowski 2-5 Stephen Maguire (Match 42)

Rhys Clarke 4-5 Alfie Burden (Match 43)

Mike Dunn 2-5 Rory McLeod (Match 44)

Matthew Selt 1-5 Martin O’Donnell (Match 47)

Noppon Saengkham 5-4 Ben Woollaston (Match 49)

Mark Joyce 1-5 John Higgins (Match 52)

Ricky Walden 5-3 Ryan Day (Match 54)

Kyren Wilson 1-5 Rod Lawler (Match 55)