World number one Judd Trump edged out Joe Perry 5-4 in a contest which came down to the last two balls at the Zhiyuan World Open.
Trump, aiming to win a sixth title within the past year, is through to the quarter-finals in Yushan and will face Michael Holt on Friday. But he would have been on the plane home from China had Perry taken one of numerous match-winning chances.
After winning the first three frames with top breaks of 135 and 74, Trump saw his opponent take four in a row with top runs of 123, 70 and 129. World number 15 Perry could have clinched the match in frame eight but missed a red to a centre pocket at 41-37 and Trump took advantage for 4-4.
The decider came down to the last two reds and, after Perry failed to convert a tough long pot to a baulk corner, Trump cleared to the pink before missing it along the right-hand side cushion, leading by nine points. Perry was left with a difficult pink along the top cushion and rattled it in the jaws, leaving Trump a pot to a centre pocket which he slotted home.
“I was in control at 3-0, then at 3-1 Joe had a big fluke and that turned it around,” said World Champion Trump. “A few things weren’t going my way and I was getting frustrated. In the end I just fell over the line. He had chances so he’ll be massively disappointed. There was a lot of tension in the last frame, it means a lot to everyone.
“There’s so much pressure here, you don’t want to be thinking about a tough loss on your flight home. Usually he wouldn’t miss those balls but in those situations you start taking too long and thinking about things that can go wrong. It’s a lifeline for me.”
Stuart Bingham’s 5-2 win over Mark Selby was one of the best performances of the season so far as he fired breaks of 108, 97, 114, 104 and 117 to win the last five frames.
“From 2-0 down I didn’t miss a ball,” said 2015 World Champion Bingham. “I felt better today than I did in my previous two matches. My game has been there but I have thrown in some bad performances. Every season my aim is to pick up a trophy. I haven’t had a good season so far so hopefully this week will kick it off.”
John Higgins trailed 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 in a Scottish derby against Graeme Dott, but still came through 5-4, making breaks of 60 and 69 in the last two frames.
“I feared the worst after the first two frames so I’m delighted to come back and win,” said four-time Crucible king Higgins. “I know I am hitting the ball better now so even at 2-0 down I was thinking if I got chances I had to take them.
“I was enjoying the game, even if I had lost I was enjoying competing and making some breaks. You can tell Graeme is hitting the ball really well at the moment and he is a great competitor.”
Michael Holt top scored with 83 in a 5-1 defeat of home favourite Ding Junhui, while Kyren Wilson was in superb form in a 5-1 win over Jack Lisowski, knocking in 77, 86, 108, 102 and 72.
China’s Zhou Yuelong impressed in a 5-2 win over Ali Carter, making breaks of 131 and 134, while David Gilbert came from 2-1 down to beat Mark Allen 5-3. Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh top scored with 74 in a 5-3 win over Sunny Akani.
Judd Trump v Michael Holt
Stuart Bingham v John Higgins
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v David Gilbert
Kyren Wilson v Zhou Yuelong