Ali Carter recovered a 6-2 deficit to beat Graeme Dott 10-8 and reach the last 16 of the Betfred World Championship.
Carter showed trademark grit and determination as he won eight of the last ten frames, punching the air in celebration at the end of one of his best Crucible fight backs.
His reward is a showpiece clash with Ronnie O’Sullivan in the second round on Friday and Saturday; a repeat of the 2008 and 2012 finals, both won by O’Sullivan. World number 15 Carter has had a disappointing season by his standards, reaching just one ranking event semi-final, but he has the chance to finish on a high at his favourite venue.
Chelmsford’s Carter began today’s session 6-3 behind and took the first two frames with runs of 62 and 108, then got the better of a scrappy frame to make it 6-6. The next two were shared then 2006 World Champion Dott made a 75 to lead 8-7.
Back came Carter with runs of 69 and 56 to lead 9-8, and he looked to be cruising over the winning line in frame 18 until he ran out of position on 63. Dott had a chance to clear but missed a short range red on 22, and when the Scot failed to escape from a snooker his chance was gone.
“Yesterday Graeme thought the job was done, but it wasn’t done,” said 38-year-old Carter. “You can never think you’ve got a match in the bag and that will be a lesson for him. I just wanted to win. I want to be here. I saw what Stephen Maguire said today about feeling left behind a bit. I felt a bit the same and I knew I needed to do something about it.
“I have been through a lot in my life. I have been very ill and overcome it and I wouldn’t have got over that if I didn’t have that personality and fight in me. I used that today.
“It’s great to be involved in a match with Ronnie. I’m very much looking forward to it. He’s red hot favourite but I’m going to turn up and have a little go and see what happens.
“He knows how good I am because we practise with each other. He has a lot of respect for me as a person. He likes my style of play, the way I hit the ball and the way I go out and play snooker. I am a good match for him.”
Dott said: “I was rubbish all the way through the game to be honest. The only time I started to feel normal was at 6-6, when I changed a couple of things and I started being able to hit the white.
“I would rather lose here playing really badly than losing in the qualifiers. But I’m bitterly disappointed with the way I played. Lots of people will criticise me, but nobody will criticise me harder than myself. I only had one break over 50 and I managed to lose 10-8 which is testament to my match play and determination and all the other rubbish that everybody talks about.”
On the other table, 2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy finished 5-4 ahead of Jamie Jones. From 1-0 down, Murphy took four frames in a row with top breaks of 75 and 137. Jones – who beat Murphy on his Crucible debut in 2012 – stopped the rot in frame six with a 27 clearance which included an excellent pot on the final black.
Murphy then made it 5-2 but it was Welshman Jones who finished the session strongly, firing runs of 94 and 114 to trail by just one overnight. They resume on Monday at 2.30pm.