Ronnie O’Sullivan survived a scare as he progressed to the Scottish Open fourth round a narrow 4-3 winner over good friend Liang Wenbo in Llandudno on Wednesday.
The Rocket and Firecracker were involved in a high-quality encounter at Venue Cymru that produced two centuries and a further three breaks over 80.
O’Sullivan arrived in the contest having seen off Michael Georgiou in the previous round after just 37 minutes, while he had won eight of his nine previous meetings with Liang.
Nevertheless, the former English Open winner took the opening frame and after his opponent levelled with 86, overturned a 53-0 deficit to snatch the third on the pink with a neat 62 clearance.
The six-time World champion responded with wonderful breaks of 95 and 131 to lead for the first time, but Liang replied with a timely 128 total clearance to force a decider.
The former UK Championship finalist was in first but broke down on 39 and was ruthlessly punished after missing an ambitious long red; O’Sullivan clearing with 90 to scrape through.
There were no such problems for Judd Trump; the world number two required just 41 minutes to overcome Craig Steadman 4-0, hitting breaks of 105, 104 and 80 along the way.
Stephen Maguire also enjoyed a whitewash against Tom Ford as John Higgins beat Noppon Saengkham 4-1.
World champion Mark Selby saw off Xiao Guodong 4-2, while Anthony McGill and UK Championship runner-up Luca Brecel required deciding frames to scrape past Jimmy Robertson and Pang Junxu respectively.
However, there was no joy for Shaun Murphy or Yan Bingtao.
Former Crucible king Murphy bowed out 4-2 against Li Hang, and Masters champion Yan was downed 4-1 by world number 88 Hammad Miah.
Scottish Open Snooker 2021 Day Three Results
Wednesday December 8
Xu Si 4-2 Ken Doherty
Mark King 2-4 Martin O’Donell
Hossein Vafaei 4-3 Wu Yize
Martin Gould 4-3 Jordan Brown
John Higgins 4-1 Noppon Saengkham
Zhang Anda 4-1 Mitchell Mann
Yan Bingtao 1-4 Hammad Miah
Shaun Murphy 2-4 Li Hang
Judd Trump 4-0 Craig Steadman
Stephen Maguire 4-0 Tom Ford
Ben Woollaston 4-1 Lei Peifan
Gary Wilson 1-4 Fergal O’Brien
Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-3 Liang Wenbo
Mark Selby 4-3 Xiao Guodong
Anthony McGill 4-3 Jimmy Robertson
Luca Brecel 4-3 Pang Junxu
Jamie Jones 4-3 Sam Craigie