Mark Selby produced a dogged display to overcome Andrew Higginson 5-4 and reach the last eight of the Bank of Beijing China Open.
World number one Selby has the added pressure this week of defending the £85,000 he received for winning the 2015 China Open, which will be removed from the rolling two-year ranking list after this event.
Higginson finds himself 52 places behind his illustrious opponent in the world rankings in 53rd. However, the gap wasn’t apparent in the early exchanges, with the 39-year-old making breaks of 61 and 63 on his way to establishing a 2-0 advantage.
The World Champion provided a swift response and made his own contributions of 72 and 69 to level the tie at 2-2 going into the interval. When they returned he picked up where he left off, making a run of 69 to take the lead for the first time.
Higginson responded by winning the next two frames and moved one away from victory at 4-3. However, a gutsy long red helped Selby force a decider, where he strung together a break of 57 to get over the line and book a quarter-final spot.
“It was a very tough game and I thought Andrew played really well,” said Selby. “I probably ended up winning the match before the interval, I was over the moon to come out 2-2 as Andrew outplayed me in the first four frames.”
Ding Junhui was forced to come from behind to overcome an impressive Mark Joyce and reach the quarter-final stage with a 5-3 win.
Joyce was enjoying his best run of the season so far and ousted five-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan yesterday evening in a final frame thriller. He made a good start today, as he moved 2-0 in front. In a similar fashion to Selby, the 12-time ranking winner Ding then took the next two frames to claw level at the interval.
The pair the traded frames, but with scores at 3-3, Ding made the decisive move. He compiled a run of 73 to move one away from securing the win. Ding was in first again in the eighth frame making 62. Joyce found his way back into the frame, but a fluked red allowed Ding to get over the line.
Next up for China’s top player is 2015 Shanghai Masters champion Kyren Wilson. The Warrior battled past Stuart Bingham in a 5-2 win.
Wilson looked the sharper of the two and got himself over the line with breaks of 43 and 85 in the seventh frame.
Stephen Maguire earned a last eight meeting with Selby after an impressive display helped him ease past Daniel Wells 5-1.
The Scot looked in good touch, making breaks of 78, 129 and 70 during the win. He’ll need to continue to play in that fashion though, as he has to win the tournament to oust Ryan Day from the world’s top 16 and qualify directly for the upcoming World Championship.