Neil Robertson advanced to the Masters quarter-finals following a 6-3 victory over Anthony McGill at Alexandra Palace on Sunday.
The Australian triumphed in snooker’s most prestigious invitational event 10 years ago, defeating Shaun Murphy 10-6 in the final to become the fourth overseas champion after Cliff Thorburn and Ding Junhui.
But Robertson, who reached a further two showpieces in 2013 and 2015, arrived in London having suffered back-to-back first-round exits, including a 6-5 defeat by eventual champion Yan Bingtao last year.
Nevertheless, the Thunder has only missed one edition of this event since 2007. That came in 2018 – the year McGill made his only previous appearance.
The Scotsman took early command; winning two of the first three frames with breaks of 78 and 115, but Robertson hit back with 75 to level at the interval.
The world number four edged his nose in front for the first time with a lovely 94 clearance, but McGill responded with 75 to level once more.
But having appeared rusty throughout the contest, Robertson managed to establish control with runs of 57 and 62 helping him win the next three frames to set up a quarter-final clash with either Ronnie O’Sullivan or Jack Lisowski.
Earlier in the day, Mark Williams dethroned reigning champion Yan to prevail a 6-4 winner in the opening match of the tournament.
The two-time winner made the early running in the opening two frames, but failure to convert his opportunities saw the Tiger pounce with clearances of 64 and 71 on the way to a 3-1 lead.
However, the pendulum swung firmly in favour of the Welshman, who delighted the raucous Alexandra Palace crowd by knocking in the pink with a one-handed escape from a snooker to only trail 3-2.
Full of momentum, the British Open champion made it four frames in a row and moved to the brink of victory with runs of 67 and 64 before a stunning break of 104.
Defending champion Yan clung with a magnificent 122 total clearance, but a neat break of 85 saw Williams over the line in the following frame.
Masters Snooker 2022 Results
Sunday January 9
Yan Bingtao 4-6 Mark Williams
Neil Robertson 6-3 Anthony McGill