Ronnie O’Sullivan recovered from a slow start to book his place in the UK Championship last 16 with a 6-2 victory over Anthony McGill.
The Rocket was launching his quest for a record-extending eighth title exactly 30 years to the day since making his big breakthrough as a 17-year-old by defeating Stephen Hendry in the final of this event.
O’Sullivan suffered an early scare against McGill, who prevailed 13-12 in their most high-profile encounter at the 2021 World Championship.
The Scotsman came flying out of the blocks with breaks of 116 and 56 giving him a 2-0 lead.
But it proved a false dawn as O’Sullivan came roaring back, reeling off six successive frames with breaks of 89, 66, 61 and 92 along the way.
Next up for the world number one is a showdown with Robert Milkins, who recovered from 5-3 down to edge out Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in a deciding frame.
The Thai Rocket made a flying start to a high-quality encounter with quickfire breaks of 93 and 127, while further runs of 85 and 72 moved him to the brink of victory.
But reigning Welsh Open champion Milkins, who had earlier contributions of 112 and 99, responded with 121 and took a close 10th frame, before controlling the decider to advance.
However, Neil Robertson’s difficult start to the season continued as the three-time champion went down 6-2 against an inspired Zhou Yuelong.
The first four frames were shared with the players exchanging breaks of 135 and 134 to leave the contest finely poised.
But Zhou, who was famously whitewashed by Robertson in the 2020 European Masters final, established control and rattled off the next four frames with breaks of 67, 99, 136 and 74 completing a commanding victory.
His reward is a clash with John Higgins after the three-time winner overcame Joe O’Connor 6-3.
The Wizard produced a trademark 66 counter clearance to snatch frame three on the black, while he also had further breaks of 76, 122 and 66.
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UK Championship 2023 | Day Four Results
Tuesday November 28
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-2 Anthony McGill
John Higgins 6-3 Joe O’Connor
Robert Milkins 6-5 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Neil Robertson 2-6 Zhou Yuelong