Luca Brecel came from behind to overcome young Chinese star Luo Honghao and reach the last 32 of the D88.com European Masters in Lommel.
The Belgian, who claimed his maiden ranking event title at last year’s China Championship, is hoping he can win a second ranking crown this week on home soil.
World number 12 Brecel looked nervy early on in the clash, as WSF Champion Luo established a 2-1 advantage. From there Brecel upped his level of play and surged to the finish line with breaks of 46, 69 and 109.
Brecel said: “My confidence was gone. We just couldn’t pot a ball. But from 2-1 down I made a monster clearance which gave me a little bit of confidence. The century in the last frame was obviously pleasing. It was a very tough battle, but I am happy to still be in the tournament.
“My game is in good shape but somehow it is hard to perform here. Maybe it can change in the next game, today was just very hard.”
His opponent in the next round will be Scotland’s 1994 Masters champion Alan McManus, who defeated Chinese prodigy Yan Bingtao 4-3 on the final black.
Mark Selby lifted the China Championship title just two days ago, but he battled through the jet lag and defeated Sam Craigie 4-1 to progress.
The Jester from Leicester’s world number one spot is currently under threat, with Mark Williams projected to overtake him by the end of the season. However, with the World Champion pulling out of this week’s event this is an opportunity for Selby to steal a march on his counterpart.
Defending champion Judd Trump continued his strong start to the week in Lommel with a second consecutive whitewash victory, beating Liam Highfield 4-0.
Trump is aiming to become the first player to win the same ranking event three years in a row since Stephen Hendry achieved the feat at the 1996 UK Championship.
World number 105 Craig Steadman stunned three-time ranking event winner Barry Hawkins to record a shock 4-0 whitewash. While Andrew Higginson also recorded a surprise win, defeating 2010 World Champion Neil Robertson 4-2.