Judd Trump edged into the quarter-finals with a nervy 13-11 victory over Yan Bingtao, joining former champions Mark Selby and Mark Williams in the last eight of the World Snooker Championship.
Trump, the reigning champion, was far from his best but managed to hold off the 20-year-old Chinese player in a match that finished just before 11pm on Friday night.
Mark Selby rattled off a break of 124 in the final-frame decider against the Thai qualifier Noppon Saengkham to book his place in the last eight on another day of tight matches at the Crucible.
Mark Williams won a close encounter with fellow former champion Stuart Bingham, 13-11, and awaits either Ronnie O’Sullivan or Ding Junhui in the quarter-finals.
Despite winning six frames in a row to turn a two-frame overnight deficit into a 9-7 lead heading into the decisive session, Trump frequently laboured to shrug off his Chinese opponent until a nerveless final-frame century break proved enough to wrap up a 13-11 victory.
Trump showed few glimpses of the form which swept him to the title last year and could have faced a much tighter challenge had Yan not missed a simple brown which would have hauled him level at 10-10 at the mid-session interval. Instead Trump stepped in to clear the colours and nudge two frames clear, and despite a spirited 94 in the next from his opponent, it would prove just enough of a cushion for the 30-year-old to sustain his advantage.
Edging through a gruelling, 50-minute 22nd frame in which Yan briefly got the two snookers he had required to potentially force a re-spot, Trump moved within one frame of victory only for Yan to respond with a superb 130 clearance to reduce the deficit to 12-11. Despite a few early scares, Trump managed to fashion his superb 127 clearance to finish which will send him into his last eight clash with either Kyren Wilson or Martin Gould in good heart.
Resuming at 8-8 against Selby, Saengkham had got the better of some gruelling opening exchanges and won a 48-minute frame to edge into a 10-9 lead. But a cool 77 break hauled Selby level again and he pounced on a missed red to the middle in the next by Saengkham to move back in front.
A brilliant clearance of 92 from the three-times champion moved him within one frame of victory at 12-10, but Saengkham responded superbly, reducing the deficit in two visits then levelling with a break of 90.
Saengkham got the first chance in the decider but ran out of position and Selby seized his first opportunity to win the match in style.
Williams revealed how a blunt appraisal of his performance from his 13-year-old son Kian spurred him on to beat Bingham and book his place in the quarter-finals. The three-times former winner turned an 8-8 overnight tie into an impressive 13-11 win over his fellow former champion, taking him into the last eight at the Crucible for the ninth time.
Williams said: “I walked in and the first thing he said was, ‘Why are you so crap?’ I’m going to take him on the golf course this afternoon and give him an absolute b******ing because of all the stick he’s been giving me these last few days.”
The 45-year-old Williams emphasised his newly relaxed demeanour during the marathon tussle, laughing at himself for missing a simple black in frame 11 and tweeting about the “best of 5” showdown as the pair sat locked at 10-10 at the mid-session interval.
“I always really enjoy it and even though I was throwing frames away in the first session I was still enjoying it – it’s only a snooker match,” added Williams. “If I lost it today it wouldn’t have been through lack of trying.”
Ronnie O’Sullivan will resume his second-round match against Ding Junhui on Saturday level at 4-4. O’Sullivan won the opening frame with breaks of 39 and 61 but Ding hit back to win three frames in a row, including a break of 76 to go 3-1 in front.
The momentum in the session swung again as O’Sullivan took the next three, including a break of 101 to level at 3-3. But after O’Sullivan had nudged back in front, Ding survived a scare when he fouled on frame ball to ensure the pair would be level overnight.
World No 89 Jamie Clarke continued his dream form at the Crucible, after his first-round victory over Mark Allen, by establishing a 6-2 overnight lead over fellow qualifier Anthony McGill. The winner will play Kurt Maflin in the last eight.