Maflin, Highfield, Liang and Mark Davis among first World Championship qualifiers
Mark Davis produced a remarkable comeback from 7-2 down to become one of eight players to seal their spot in the 2021 World Snooker Championship on Tuesday.
The first half of Fourth Round fixtures produced drama and quality in abundance at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, with a mixture of youth and experience advancing to The Crucible.
Hastings veteran Davis, who made his Crucible debut back in 1994, rolled back the years to recover from 7-2 down to seal a 10-8 victory over Jamie Clarke.
The three-time Six Reds champion looked struggled to gain a foothold in the match during the first session but began the evening by reeling off seven consecutive frames.
Clarke, who made his Crucible debut last August, stopped the rot in frame 17, but Davis averted the need for a decider by clinching victory in the following frame.
“I don’t remember coming back from that sort of deficit before in all my career, to be honest,” admitted Davis.
“Jamie really is a tough player. I’ve been playing well for a long time but for whatever reason it didn’t happen in the first session. It’s just crazy.”
Davis will be joined in Thursday’s First Round draw by Welsh ace Jamie Jones – who ended his three-year absence from the sport’s hallowed stage by defeating Li Hang 10-5.
Jones, a quarter-finalist back in 2012, continued his fine return to form after serving a year-long ban in 2019 as he compiled two centuries in a dominant display.
“I realised the prize that was on offer today but I tried to take it like any other match,” said Jones.
“I’m delighted, the fist pump at the end was just a bit of relief.
“The people close to me never doubted me and I’m just happy to be back competing, I’ll give it my best shot.”
Elsewhere, Liam Highfield secured his second appearance in the sport’s blue riband event by dispatching world number 17 Zhou Yuelong 10-7.
Highfield had opened up an 8-4 lead before Zhou replied with three in a row to close the gap, but the 30-year-old took the next two frames to seal his spot in the main event.
“I just can’t wait to get out there and it’ll be good for friends and family to see me walk out there again,” said Highfield.
“I’m delighted with the win, I’ve put a lot of hard work in,” he added.
Former World Champion Graeme Dott missed out on a 21st appearance at The Crucible after suffering a 10-7 defeat at the hands of Tian Pengfei.
Dott mounted a spirited fightback from 8-1 down to trail 9-7, but Tian held his nerve to clinch a second Crucible appearance in the space of three years.
Matthew Selt continued his red hot run of form by thrashing Scott Donaldson 10-3 to reach the main stage of the event for the first time in six years.
Selt, who overturned a 5-2 deficit to edge out Nigel Bond 6-5 in the previous round, enjoyed a much more comfortable day’s work as he swept aside the Scotsman with high breaks of 110, 106 and a match-clinching 135.
“I’m delighted to get through,” said Selt. “I came here knowing how good my game was, and when I was 5-2 down against Nigel Bond, I just assumed I was going home.
“I finished off well today but Scott let me off.”
Last year’s quarter-finalist Kurt Maflin secured a second successive appearance in the main event courtesy of a 10-4 rout of Robert Milkins.
Norway’s number one fired in breaks of 72, 53, 77, 64, 87 and 89 as he brushed aside the quick-fire Gloucester cueist.
Liang Wenbo progressed to his eighth World Championship after a 10-7 victory over Chinese compatriot Lu Ning.
The duo were locked level after 14 frames before the 2008 quarter-finalist reeled off three in a row to get over the line with a high break of 130 along the way.
Lyu Haotian was the youngest of the eight qualifiers on the day as the 23-year-old reached The Crucible for the second time by virtue of a 10-6 success over Chang Bingyu.
Lyu came through a high quality contest which featured five centuries in total, making three of his own, including a 131 in frame 12.
Wednesday will see the final eight qualifying matches take place as the likes of Ali Carter, Ryan Day, Stuart Bingham and Luca Brecel aim to rubber-stamp their place in the main draw.
WATCH THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)
World Snooker Championship Qualifiers 2021 Results
Tuesday April 13
Zhou Yuelong 7-10 Liam Highfield
Matthew Selt 10-3 Scott Donaldson
Robert Milkins 4-10 Kurt Maflin
Lyu Haotian 10-6 Chang Bingyu
Graeme Dott 7-10 Tian Pengfei
Jamie Jones 10-5 Li Hang
Lu Ning 7-10 Liang Wenbo
Mark Davis 10-8 Jamie Clarke