Former champions John Higgins, Neil Robertson and Stuart Bingham are among the stars in action on Day Four of the 2022 World Snooker Championship, as Yan Bingtao also gets his Crucible campaign under way.
Two seeds have already been sent packing in Sheffield in what has been an enthralling start to the sport’s show-piece event.
There have been a total of 23 century breaks, with Stuart Bingham emerging as the early front runner on the ton table with a magnificent 140 on Easter Monday.
Bingham, the 2015 World Champion, has opened up a 6-3 lead over Chinese qualifier Lyu Haotian at the halfway stage of their contest and will look to finish the job when they return on Tuesday afternoon.
With the pair level at two apiece, Bingham reeled off four frames in a row with breaks of 54, 85, 86 and 140 to surge ahead and looked set to extend that lead after making a 68 break in frame nine, but only for Lyu to produce a crucial 69 clearance to grab a lifeline overnight.
Reigning Masters and Tour Champion Robertson also holds a 6-3 advantage going into the second session of his clash against debutant Ashley Hugill.
World number 77 Hugill made a dream start to the contest by opening up a 3-1 lead with high breaks of 85 and 77 after Robertson had taken the opening frame with a clinical 127 break.
Robertson, the pre-tournament favourite to claim a second world title, recovery strongly after the interval to reel off five consecutive frames with breaks of 72, 97, 109 and 132 to take control of the tie.
The morning session sees 2021 Masters champion Yan Bingtao kick off his fourth World Championship campaign with a tie against qualifier Chris Wakelin.
Yan, runner-up in the German Masters this season, returns to The Crucible as the number 16 and is bidding to reach the Second Round for the third consecutive year.
Wakelin is aiming to record his first win at the sport’s spiritual home at the third time of asking, having defeated Jamie Wilson, Fan Zhengyi and Jimmy Robertson in last week’s qualifiers to cap off an otherwise frustrating season for the man from Warwickshire,
One of the stand-out ties of the opening round gets under way on Tuesday as four-time World Champion John Higgins faces rapid Thai cueist Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.
The pair met in this event in 2018 when Higgins denied Un-Nooh a winning debut by prevailing 10-7 on his way to finishing runner-up that year.
Higgins heads to Sheffield having lost in four ranking finals this season, as well as the Champion of Champions, and will be desperate to stop the rot and return to the winner’s circle in the biggest event of all.
The Scot’s incredible longevity is underlined by the fact he has won the World Championship in four different decades and has made the final on eight occasions, with only Stephen Hendry (nine) having made more.
Un-Nooh is making his fourth appearance as a qualifier in the space of five years and is out to register his first win at The Crucible, having also lost to Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan in Round One.
The 2019 Shoot Out champion has not made it beyond the Third Round stage of a ranking tournament this season and has dropped to 53rd in the world rankings as a result.
The evening session features the first half of the clash between 14th seed Jack Lisowski and two-time world finalist Matthew Stevens.
Lisowski is making his fifth consecutive Crucible appearance and sixth in total but is yet to progress beyond the Second Round stage.
The 30-year-old, who has lost in six ranking finals, made the Semi-Finals of the recent Welsh Open and was a quarter-finalist in December’s UK Championship.
Stevens, meanwhile, is set for his 18th World Championship appearance, having made his debut back in 1998.
Runner-up in 2000 and 2005, the Welsh ace banished an otherwise below-par season by defeating Gerard Greene, Sam Craigie and Ali Carter in the qualifiers, notably recovering from 4-0 and 5-1 down in the final round.
Play gets underway at 10am BST, with all matches contested over the best of 19 frames at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
World Snooker Championship 2022 Day Four Schedule
*Indicates final session
Tuesday April 19
2 Yan Bingtao v Chris Wakelin
9* Neil Robertson (6-3) Ashley Hugill
6* Stuart Bingham (6-3) Lyu Haotian
12 John Higgins v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
2* Yan Bingtao v Chris Wakelin
10 Jack Lisowski v Matthew Stevens