John Higgins survived a huge scare against Noppon Saengkham with a 5-3 victory eventually seeing him advance to the Semi-Finals of the 2016 China Open, while Ricky Walden comfortably swept aside Stuart Bingham 5-1 at the University Students Gymnasium in Beijing.
Higgins raced into a 4-0 lead against Saengkham, who was appearing in his first ranking Quarter-Final, but saw the Thai cueist reduce the deficit to a single frame before finally closing out his win with two runs of 43.
The four-time World Champion was making his 98th appearance in the Last Eight of a ranking event and, despite seeing a 50-8 lead reduced to four points in the opening frame, cleared to the pink to draw first blood.
He then trailed 30-0 in the second but quickly regained control, before coming out on top in the tactical battle to double his lead on the pink.
A quickfire break of 75 increased Higgins’ advantage, before he put himself on the brink of victory after taking a lengthy fourth frame with a cool clearance from the penultimate red to pink.
Saengkham did not let his head drop, however, as breaks of 56 and 77 saw him cut the lead to 4-2.
The world number 100, who had already stunned Neil Robertson, Ben Woollaston and Graeme Dott this week, then moved to within a frame of his opponent with runs of 46 and 30, but a missed yellow in the next was pounced on by Higgins, who breathed a huge sigh of relief as he scraped over the line.
He remains on course for a third ranking title of the season, having already captured the Australian Goldfields Open and International Championship, and will play Walden in the Semi-Finals after the Players Championship runner-up continued his momentum with a 5-1 thrashing of Bingham – making it consecutive appearances in the Last Four of ranking events.
A run of 60 gave Walden the opening frame, before a fluke on the yellow paved the way for him to take a marathon second which lasted over 50 minutes.
The world number 10 increased his lead to 3-0 with a break of 55, before Bingham finally got on the scoreboard by dominating the fourth frame.
It was a false dawn for the World Champion, however, as he struggled to build momentum and was unlucky not to have the run of the balls on several occasions.
Walden pounced with a run of 67 moving him a frame away from victory, which he secured in style with a 79 break – keeping him on course for a fourth ranking title in China.
China Open 2016 Results
Friday April 1
Noppon Saengkham 3-5 John Higgins
Ricky Walden 5-1 Stuart Bingham