Mark Williams survived a huge scare on the way to recording a 5-3 victory over Zhao Xintong to book his place in the final stages of the 2017 China Open on Wednesday, while Jimmy White edged out Sam Baird at the Preston Guild Hall.
The two-time world champion appeared to be in trouble as he trailed 3-1 against the Chinese teenager, but recovered a lengthy deficit in the fifth frame before reeling off the next three to eventually prevail.
Williams began well on Wednesday with a break of 75 to draw first blood, but runs of 54 and 77 helped Zhao win the next three before the mid-session interval.
The 19-year-old, who thrashed Higgins 5-1 in the German Masters Qualifiers before Christmas, looked on course for a 4-1 advantage but broke down on 50 and his opponent produced a timely 72 clearance to the pink to narrow the deficit.
World number 15 Williams won the next and stole a crucial seventh frame on the black, before a further contribution of 52 was enough to get him over the line and set up a clash with Zhang Anda, who overcame Oliver Lines by the same scoreline.
There were no such problems for John Higgins, who made breaks of 75 and 59 on the way to a comfortable whitewash of Hill.
The four-time Crucible king will play Ian Burns in the second round after the Preston cueist enjoyed a 5-1 rout of Thor Chuan Leong in front of his home crowd.
Crowd favourite White also booked his place in the main event after coming from behind on three separate occasions before claiming a narrow 5-4 win over Baird.
The Whirlwind will play Michael Holt, who survived a stubborn Liam Highfield fightback from 4-1 down to 4-4 and a 52-0 deficit in the decider before producing a nerveless 68 clearance to snatch a 5-4 win on the pink.
Michael White also held his nerve in the decider against Kritsanut Lertsattayathorn, who levelled at 4-4 after trailing 3-1, and will face Yu De Lu in the Last 64 after the Chinese cueist whitewashed Hammad Miah 5-0.
Mark Davis also reeled off five frames without reply against Yan Bingtao to set up an encounter with Rhys Clark, who hit a top break of 108 as he claimed a credible 5-2 victory over two-time champion Peter Ebdon.
However, 2007 winner Graeme Dott enjoyed better fortunes as he saw off Jak Jones 5-3 and the Pocket Dynamo will now play 2015 finalist Gary Wilson, who made 100 in a 5-2 win over Duane Jones.
Elsewhere, Stuart Carrington hit a top break of 130 in his 5-1 rout of Wang Yuchen and Rory McLeod was a 5-2 winner against Daniel Womersley, while Martin O’Donnell edged out Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 5-4 in the final match of the night.
China Open Qualifiers 2017 Results
Wednesday January 25
Rory McLeod 5-2 Daniel Womersley
Graeme Dott 5-3 Jak Jones Gary
Wilson 5-2 Duane Jones Stuart
Carrington 5-1 Wang Yuchen
Ian Burns 5-1 Thor Chuan Leong
Michael White 5-4 Kritsanut Lertsattayathorn
Yu De Lu 5-0 Hammad Miah
Sam Baird 4-5 Jimmy White
Michael Holt 5-4 Liam Highfield
Peter Ebdon 2-5 Rhys Clark
Oliver Lines 3-5 Zhang Anda
Mark Williams 5-3 Zhao Xintong
Mark Davis 5-0 Yan Bingtao
John Higgins 5-0 Darryl Hill
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 4-5 Martin O’Donnell