WORLD number one Mark Selby grinded out a place in the next round of the UK Championship after beating Jamie Jones in a final frame decider.
But the 2014 world champion will count himself a very lucky man to still be in the tournament after stealing two frames of which he should have lost on route to a nail biting 6-5 win against the Welshman.
Selby was far from his best throughout the third round tie but he dug deep when it mattered to keep his hopes of winning his second UK Championship title alive.
Trailing 4-3 Selby looked like he was going two frames behind when he needed a snooker with just pink and black on the table. But remarkably Jones went in off on the pink to hand the Leicester star the chance to level at 4-4 which he duly took.
Selby went behind again when Jones took the ninth frame but he fought back late in the night with a high break of 67 to clinch a hard-fought win.
Elsewhere, Stuart Bingham’s disappointing season continued after he suffered an early exit in this year’s UK Championship losing to Peter Ebdon.
Bingham has struggled for form since winning the World Championship in May and former world champion Ebdon proved too good for him as he claimed a 6-3 win to secure a place in the last 16.
Since winning snooker’s biggest price at the Crucible seven months ago, Bingham’s only other success on the table came when he reached the semi-finals of the Shanghai Masters in September.
BINGHAM’S FORM SINCE CRUCIBLE GLORY
Australian Open – R1 exit (L32)
Riga Open – R3 exit (L32)
Paul Hunter Classic – R1 exit (L128)
Shanghai Masters – Semi-Finals exit (L4)
Ruhr Open – R1 exit (L128)
International Chamionship – R2 exit (L64)
Bulgarian Open – R2 exit (L64)
Champion of Champions (non ranking) – R1 exit (L16)
John Higgins kept up his fine form with a 6-2 win over Ali Carter.
Higgins, winner of this season’s Australian Open and International Championship, dominated throughout against the Essex potter who admitted after the game he had felt unwell during the match.
The four times world champion will meet fellow Scot Jamie Burnett in the next round after he beat Li Hang with top breaks of 81, 59, 56 and 64.
Monday also saw Matthew Selt advance to the fourth round with victory over Robbie Williams and young Belgian talent Luca Brecel hit one century and four breaks of 50 plus to beat Robin Hull 6-2.
Ulsterman Joe Swail recorded an impressive 6-1 win over Michael Holt and David Grace came back from 3-1 down to defeat Jack Lisowski.
Tuesday sees Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and Kyren Wilson take to the baize bidding for a place in the last 16.