Mark Selby survived a Ryan Day fightback to book his place in the last eight of the Ladbrokes Players Championship in Llandudno with a thrilling 5-4 win.
The Welshman Day was the last man to qualify for this week. His position in the event was only confirmed on Friday night, where he reached the last 16 of the Gibraltar Open. Day then went on to make the semi-finals, where he was defeated by Judd Trump.
By contrast Selby’s place this week was already secure by Christmas, having collected three ranking titles in the first half of the season at the Paul Hunter Classic, International Championship and UK Championship.
The World Champion flew out of the blocks with runs of 91 and 75 to go 2-0 up. However, Day compiled a fine break of 72 to half the deficit, before taking the fourth to go into the interval at 2-2.
The match continued along a similar pattern, as Selby clinched the next two frames to restore his lead, before once again Day fought back. He showed great resolve to reply with breaks of 67 and 88 and force a deciding frame at 4-4. It was the Jester who managed to stem the tide for a second time and took the frame to clinch a dramatic 5-4 victory.
“I was sitting there at 4-4 and thinking about how I’ve never been behind in this match,” said the world number one. “I hoped to get that one frame and pull away to the next round and that’s what happened.”
Selby faces Marco Fu in the next round and is expecting a hard battle.
“He’s a great player, scores well and tough to beat. But I’m looking forward to it. I’m off until Thursday night now so I’ve got a few days off to keep practising and get focused.”
Fu blitzed his way to the last eight thanks to a 5-1 demolition Scotland’s Anthony McGill.
Both players have claimed ranking titles this season, with Fu recording a stunning 9-4 defeat of John Higgins in the Scottish Open and on McGill claiming victories at both the Indian Open and the recent Shoot Out.
McGill got off to a terrific start taking the opener with a break of 87. However, that was as good as it got for the 26-year-old.
Fu claimed five frames on the trot, including breaks of 94, 53 and 56 along the way, to set up a showdown with Selby.