Judd Trump continued the defence of his World Snooker Championship title with a hard-fought 13-11 victory over Yan Bingtao in Round Two at The Crucible on Friday.
Trump, bidding to end the infamous ‘Crucible curse’, started the day 5-3 behind before a six-frame burst saw him take control in the second session.
Yan, however, hit back to remain on his opponent’s coattails in the evening session but crucially could not drag himself level and missed a pivotal chance in frame 20.
Despite being far below his brilliant best, Trump held on to close out a narrow win in style with his only century of the match.
“I’m very relieved,” Trump told Eurosport. “He pushed me all the way but in the afternoon session I should have kicked on from 9-5.
“It all changed tonight, he was potting everything and putting me under pressure.
“It’s difficult out there when you’ve got someone young and fearless playing so well and I was just waiting for a good chance.
“It’s just about getting the job done and being in that Quarter-Final again.”
Trump took a scrappy opening two frames of the second session to make it five-all before following in with breaks of 88, 73 and 93 en route to a 9-5 lead.
Yan stopped the rot in frame 15 before firing in a break of 89 to trail by two heading in to the evening session.
The next two frames were shared before Yan dominated frame 19 and made a 64 break in the next, but only to miss frame ball brown and allow Trump to snatch the frame and an 11-9 lead.
A missed black off the spot from Trump was punished by a 94 break as Yan remained one adrift, and after a 55 break had moved the world number one to the verge of victory, Yan rallied again with a superb break of 130.
Trump, though, averted the need for a decider by powering in a vintage clearance of 127 to set up a clash with either Kyren Wilson of Martin Gould in the Last Eight.
Meanwhile, three-time World Champion Mark Selby also dug deep at the business end of the contest to deny Noppon Saengkham in a last-frame decider.
The pair entered the final session locked level at eight apiece and remained inseparable after 20 frames as Selby made a 77 break to square it up.
That was the first of three frames on the spin for the Leicester ace as he moved ahead before adding a break of 92 to make it 12-10.
Saengkham, however, underlined his resilience to take the next two frames, making a 90 break to force a decider, and pile the pressure on the number seven seed.
But it was Selby who drew upon his vast experience to produce a majestic break of 124 to seal the deal at the first time of asking.
Mark Williams, another three-time Crucible king, also held his nerve to come through a nail-biting clash 13-11 over Stuart Bingham.
The decorated duo also entered their final session tied at eight-all and there remained no more than one frame between them until Williams eventually got over the line.
Bingham’s break of 70 in frame 17 was cancelled out by a 67 from Williams before a 90 break saw the Welshman move in front.
Bingham responded with a 51, but only for Williams to move 11-10 up courtesy of a break of 74.
The following two frames were exchanged as Williams moved to the hill and made no mistake of finishing the job with a break of 75.
Elsewhere, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ding Junhui ended their first session locked level at four apiece.
O’Sullivan, who thrashed Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10-1 in the fastest match in Crucible history in Round One, took the opening frame with a break of 61.
Ding then reeled off three in a row, including breaks of 57 and 76 to lead by two at the interval.
The tables were turned, though, as O’Sullivan replied with breaks of 60 and 101 en route to three unanswered frames of his own to lead 4-3, but the final frame of the evening went to Ding, leaving the tie perfectly poised overnight.
In contrast, debutant Jamie Clarke stormed into a 6-2 overnight lead against 2015 quarter-finalist Anthony McGill.
Clarke, who sensationally knocked out Mark Allen in Round One, picked up from where he left off as he raced into a 6-1 lead with breaks of 60, 52 and 60 along the way.
McGill, though, secured a crucial final frame of the session with a break of 57 to give himself a lifeline.
World Snooker Championship 2020 Results
Friday August 7
Mark Williams 13-11 Stuart Bingham
Mark Selby 13-12 Noppon Saengkham
Judd Trump 13-11 Yan Bingtao
Anthony McGill 2-6 Jamie Clarke (Resumes Saturday)
Ding Junhui 4-4 Ronnie O’Sullivan (Resumes Saturday)