Liang Wenbo recorded a 10-7 defeat of Stuart Carrington to book a mouth-watering clash with compatriot Ding Junhui in the second round of the Betfred World Championship.
The win sees Liang progress past the opening match at the Crucible for the first time since 2008, when he made the quarter-finals. The Firecracker last faced his second round opponent Ding at the Sheffield venue in 2009, he suffered a 10-8 defeat.
Carrington came into this evening with a slender 5-4 advantage. However, he secured his own piece of history in the opening session. He joined an elite club of five players to have made three consecutive centuries at the Crucible. The only others to have achieved the feat are John Higgins, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson.
Liang won the opening two frames of this evening’s concluding session to take the lead. There was then an extraordinary 12th frame which came down to the wire. The pair engaged in a black ball battle, which extended beyond 15 minutes. However, it was Carrington who eventually potted a steely long black to level at 6-6.
English Open Champion Liang then compiled a run of 71 to restore his lead and from that point the nerves set in for both players.
Carrington leveled and the match looked set to go the distance, but Liang began to get the better of the increasingly fragmented frames.
Neither player managed to find the fluidity which was prevalent earlier on in the tie. Liang looked the more clinical and managed to take the following three frames to progress 10-7.
Liang said: “Today I played well at times and not very well at others. I started quickly tonight and that was after Stuart got three centuries in the first session to put me under a lot of pressure.
“I wanted to control the table. I wasn’t bothered about scoring heavily, I just wanted to win. I knew that after three or four years of drawing a hard first match, this time I got a player I had a chance against.
“Me and Ding are very good friends. I’ll just enjoy the game and give the fans a game to enjoy, it should be a good match.”
A disappointed Carrington admitted the loss may have been a missed opportunity.
He remarked: “I came into tonight full of confidence from the first session. The match didn’t really flow this evening, we both missed a few and ran out of position. I hit so many safety shots all wrong and I was just leaving him in. I don’t know what to say.
“I knew that I was cueing well, I just couldn’t just play that one shot to give me a chance in the latter frames. Just for whatever reason I played a few really loose shots and just didn’t finish off very well at all.
“Its all experience, and its all good experience at the end of the day. You never know how you’re going to feel out there, I was trying to pump myself up inside to say ‘Come on’ when I had a great chance of going 8-8 at the time. I lost a silly frame to go 9-7 in the end and it just ended pretty flat.”
Meanwhile, 2006 Crucible king Graeme Dott built a 6-3 lead over tenth seed Ali Carter.
Dott has dropped to 29th in the world after failing to reach the last 16 of a ranking event so far this season, but he showed improved form in the qualifying rounds last week and is now four frames away from knocking out Carter.
Glasgow’s Dott took a 4-0 lead despite a top break of just 47, as Carter struggled to settle. Essex cueman Carter got going after the interval and recovered to 4-2 with runs of 53 and 48. Dott made a 50 in taking frame seven before Carter’s 76 made it 5-3. The last of the session went to Dott to give him a handy overnight advantage. They resume on Wednesday at 2.30pm.