Ali Carter came through a fiercely contested Betfred World Championship qualifying clash with China’s Pang Junxu 6-4, to earn a Judgement Day place.
Carter, a two-time World Championship finalist, missed out the Crucible last year for the first time since 2002, losing to Louis Heathcote in the penultimate qualifying round.
This time, Carter controlled the opening stages, firing in breaks of 69, 64, 71 and 64 on his way to establishing a 5-2 advantage.
Tour rookie Pang, age 21, showcased his potential by battling back into contention. After claiming the eighth frame, a stunning break of 106 pulled him within one at 5-4.
Carter wasn’t to be denied and runs of 25 and 45 in the tenth frame took him over the line and secured a Judgement Day meeting with Alexander Ursenbacher, who defeated Martin O’Donnell 6-5.
“I didn’t sleep last night, because I want it so badly. Almost too much. Even after being a pro for 20 odd years, I think I want it more now than I ever did. Maybe it is because I am trying hard on my preparation back home. This first match is horrible,” said 41-year-old Carter.
“His safety was unbelievable today. He just looked like he was willing to stand there all day to try and win. All kinds of things were going through my head. I should have won 6-2, but I twitched a red. There is so much pressure for us out there with the ranking points. I have to get my head round it and make sure I get through.”
Englishman Sam Craigie put on a superb performance to whitewash Iranian number one Hossein Vafaei 6-0 and clinch a Judgement Day place for the first time in his career.
Craigie now faces Zhao Xintong in the final qualifying round. Zhao defeated Poland’s Kacper Filipiak 6-3 this afternoon. That result relegated Filipiak from the circuit.
Steven Hallworth rallied from 5-4 down to beat Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown 6-5 and move one win from a Crucible debut.
Hallworth came into this year’s event having never won a match in the World Championship. The 25-year-old scored a 6-2 win over Dean Young in round one and a 6-3 defeat of David Grace in round two. He’ll play Gary Wilson on Judgement Day.
World number 18 Stuart Bingham eased to a 6-1 defeat of Chen Zifan. The 2015 World Champion now faces Luca Brecel in the final round.