JIMMY White stands just one win away from making his first Crucible appearance in seven years after an impressive victory against Xiao Guodong.
The six-times World Championship finalist will play Robert Milkins on Sunday knowing a win will see him in the first round of this year’s World Championship.
The Whirlwind followed up his second round win against Tian Pengfei with a dominant 10-4 victory against Guodong who is currently ranked number 38 in the world rankings.
White, whose last match at the Crucible was a first round 10-5 defeat to David Gray in 2006, was in control throughout and sailed into leads of 3-0 and 8-3 with top breaks of 66 and 56.
But six-times world champion Steve Davis will not be playing in the World Championship later this month after he suffered a 10-7 defeat to Norway’s in-form potter Kurt Maflin.
The Norweigan, who recently made the semi-finals of the PTC Grand Finals event, showed his fine form hitting three century breaks as he proved too good for the Nugget. After the game was level at 6-6, Maflin pulled away from Davis with breaks of 77 and 113 before a superb 117 clinched a deserved win.
Maflin will next face another former world champion in Peter Ebdon in a bid to reach the Crucible for the first time.
Jack Lisowski followed up the form which saw him reach the last eight in last month’s China Open with a cruising 10-4 win over James Wattana and Ben Woollaston set up a final round match against Ryan Day after thrashing Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10-3.
Welshman Michael White also got a step closer to making his Crucible debut after a 10-5 victory over Zhang Anda booked him a last 48 encounter against Andrew Higginson.
And Matthew Selt was forced to work hard to make his way into the next round after he came out on top against Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon, winning 10-8.
The Romford potter will bid to make his first appearance at the Crucible when he takes on 1997 world champion Ken Doherty this weekend.
Elsewhere, four other third round matches got underway in the afternoon. One of the surprises of the day saw Rod Lawler put himself in a great position of reaching the final round after he took a 7-2 overnight lead against Scotland’s Anthony McGill.
China’s Liang Wenbo also put himself in pole position winning seven of the first nine frames against Jimmy Robertson.
And both Tony Drago and Alan McManus earned themselves 5-4 leads overnight against David Gilbert and Nigel Bond respectively.
Thursday will see the other ten matches come to a conclusion with the final round of qualifiers beginning on Saturday.