World number four Higgins trailed 3-2 against Noppon Saengkham, 69 places below him in the rankings, but hit back to four of the last five frames with top breaks of 126, 52 and 66 to win 6-4. Higgins has won two titles within the past month, earning well over £300,000, and is looking to continue his hot streak here in York. He now faces Ben Woollaston or Paul Davison in the last 32.
“I dodged a bullet there, I’m just delighted to get through,” said two-time UK Champion Higgins. ““I really did think I’d be heading up the road when I went 4-3 down. A lot of these boys are not frightened of top players any more. I felt as if the luck had ran out but the luck’s still with me just now.”
World Champion Mark Selby also came through 6-4 after a long battle, beating Daniel Wells. Leicester’s Selby was 3-1 down, despite a run of 101 in the second frame, but won five of the last six frames with top runs of 102 and 61.
“It was a battle,” said Selby, who won the title here in 2012. “My focus dipped in and out. It is still the early stages of the tournament, I don’t want to peak too soon.”
Liam Highfield came from 4-1 down to beat Wang Yuchen 6-5 with a top break of 125 while Luca Brecel made two breaks of 102 in a 6-5 win over Sam Craigie.
Stephen Maguire top scored with 128 in a 6-2 defeat of Zhao Xintong while Mark Williams saw off Andrew Higginson by the same scoreline.
Welshman Williams continues to suffer from a neck injury “I’m in pain or discomfort every shot I play and it’s not getting any easier at all,” he said.