Ronnie O’Sullivan will play John Higgins in the Shanghai Masters quarter-finals after launching his season with a 6-3 win over Ali Carter.
The Rocket was playing his first match of the 2023-24 campaign, having withdrawn from the Championship League and European Masters on medical ground.
But O’Sullivan hit the ground running in Shanghai, where he is a four-time winner and three-time defending champion, with his 17th victory over Carter in 18 meetings (excluding the Championship League).
He started with runs of 32, 31 and 57, before a neat clearance of 99 moved him 3-1 ahead at the interval.
Reigning German Masters champion Carter responded with 185 unanswered points – breaks of 68 and 83 levelling matters at 3-3 – but O’Sullivan pulled away once more with contributions of 101, 74 and 81 seeing him through.
That set up a mouth-watering quarter-final showdown with John Higgins, who beat Kyren Wilson by the same scoreline.
The Wizard produced a trademark 63 clearance from 61-5 down to snatch the opening frame on the black, while runs of 36 and 53 helped extend his lead to 3-0.
Wilson, who was humbled 13-2 by Higgins at the Crucible in April, hit back with a vengeance as breaks of 85, 120 and 129 making it 3-3.
But the four-time World champion pulled clear once more with contributions of 57, 100 and 52 securing victory.
Elsewhere, Mark Selby ended his three-match losing streak against Hossein Vafaei, who he battled past in a deciding frame.
Despite losing the opener, the four-time Crucible king won five of the next seven with breaks of 71 and 87 putting him 5-3 to the good.
Vafaei rallied with runs of 41 and 38 helping force a decider, but Selby held his nerve with 67 to prevail.
The Jester will now play Judd Trump, who also came through a final-frame shootout against good friend Jack Lisowski.
Breaks of 119, 81, 69, 66 and 64 put the Ace on the brink of victory at 5-2 up.
Lisowski rallied with runs of 68 and 77, before clearing from green to pink in frame 10 to force a decider.
‘Jackpot’ had the first decent opportunity, but could not advance on a contribution of 43, and Trump stepped in with 74 to scrape over the line.
Earlier in the day, Mark Williams hit breaks of 107 and 95 as he defeated last season’s WST Classic finalist Pang Junxu 6-1, while reigning Welsh Open champion Robert Milkins produced four half-centuries on the way to beating Yulu Bai by the same scoreline.
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Shanghai Masters 2023 Day Two results
Tuesday September 12
Robert Milkins 6-1 Bai Yulu (a)
Mark J Williams 6-1 Pang Junxu
Kyren Wilson 3-6 John Higgins
Judd Trump 6-5 Jack Lisowski
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-3 Ali Carter
Mark Selby 6-5 Hossein Vafaei