John Higgins saw off the spirited challenge of Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10-7 to book his place in the second round of the World Championship at the Crucible.
Higgins, who won the last of his four world titles in 2011, levelled the match at 5-5 on the back of a 75 break in Wednesday morning’s lengthy opening frame which lasted almost half an hour.
Another clearance of 53 was followed by a century as the veteran Scot, an eight-time finalist, took a 7-6 lead into the mid-session interval.
Following the restart, Un-Nooh recovered to stay in touch at 8-7, but Higgins eventually edged a nervy 16th frame 58-40 to move within one of victory, which he secured with another classy half-century clearance.
Higgins, 46, will next face either Belgium’s Luca Brecel or Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham in the last 16.
It had looked at one stage as if Higgins would push home his advantage when 8-6 ahead, only to go into the middle pocket off a black when trying to screw back up the table.
“When I went in-off in the middle bag, I felt numb at that point, as if someone had taken me out of my own body, that’s when some crazy thoughts go through your mind,” Higgins said on the World Snooker Tour website.
“But I managed to get to 10 first. I’m delighted because I felt like I stood up quite well in the end.
“It’s always more nerve-racking in the first round because you just want to get through and get into the tournament.
“I feel as if I am hitting the ball well at the moment. That can get better the longer I stay in the event.”
On the other table, Kyren Wilson recovered from 3-0 down against Ding Junhui to trail 5-4 after the first session.
Ding had opened up a 3-0 lead after breaks of 64 and 110 before Wilson, runner-up in 2020, responded with a century clearance himself to take a frame back before the interval.
Wilson, the tournament’s fifth seed, continued his fightback to level the match after a break of 95 in the sixth frame, only for 2016 runner-up Ding to produce clearances of 54 and 82 to lead by two.
After Wilson missed a sixth black when on course for a possible 147 in the ninth frame, both men played strong safety games before the Englishman edged it 75-35, with the match set to conclude on Wednesday evening.
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