John Higgins battled past Chinese teenager Zhao Xintong 4-3 in a thrilling encounter to book his place in the last 32 of the Indian Open in Vishakhapatnam.
The last time the pair met was in qualifying for last year’s German Masters and it was Zhao who came through a 5-1 winner. It was a far tighter affair this evening.
The opening four frames were completed at a rapid pace, with Zhao initially moving two frames in front thanks to breaks of 73 and 78. However, Higgins responded with runs of 77 and 88 to restore parity at 2-2.
The Scot required a snooker after trailing 63-1 in the fifth, however he got it and took the frame to move one from victory at 3-2. Zhao forced the decider, but Higgins came through with a fine break of 87 to secure the win after an engrossing match.
Higgins said: “He’s such a great talent, very fluent and he is one of the players you enjoy watching. When he beat me 5-1 last year he did it in about 55 minutes and was devastating. It looked like he might be doing it again.
“I’ve been in the game long enough to know that if people think the draw is opening up it isn’t really. You need to go out and prepare well and if you do that you have every chance, but if you don’t you will be on the next plane.”
Anthony McGill continued the defence of his title with a 4-1 defeat of Ashley Hugill.
The current champion beat Indian number one Aditya Mehta 4-0 yesterday and once again looked at ease this evening against Hugill. His high break was a run of 98 in the second frame.
Shaun Murphy overcame Hammad Miah in a 4-0 whitewash to progress to the last 32.
The Magician is currently on a fine run of form having won 14 of his last 16 matches thanks to back to back finals at the China Championship and Paul Hunter Classic. He wasted little time today, defeating Miah in just over an hour.
Mark Allen produced a quickfire 4-0 defeat of Niu Zhuang to reach the last 32. The pistol fired with consecutive breaks of 83, 89 and 79 to secure the victory.
Elliot Slessor recorded a fine 4-3 victory over world number 28 Alan McManus. Slessor trailed 3-2, but claimed the final two frames to come through.
For full results click here.