Selby and Higgins progress

  • Last Updated: January 12 2014, 22:09 GMT

Defending champion Mark Selby was forced to fight for victory in his opening Masters match as he edged out a battling Mark Davis 6-5 at Alexandra Palace on Sunday.

  • Mark Selby: Edged through to the quarter-finals
  • John Higgins: Eased into the quarter-finals 

The 30-year-old from Leicester saw off fellow Englishman Davis in a cagey 55-minute final frame after the 41-year-old drew the match level at 5-5 following two half-century breaks.

However, Selby, who has won the prestigious invitational event three times - in 2008, 2010 and last year - came through following a tense safety exchange to sink a red in the middle pocket and book his place in the quarter-finals.

Selby cruised to a 4-0 lead with breaks of 59 and 80 in the opening two frames, before Davis hit back after the mid-session interval to pull a frame back with a break of 80.

Davis then claimed the sixth but Selby pounced on a missed red in the next to take the best-of-11 match to 5-2 in his favour.

A break of 136 earned Davis the accolade of scoring the first century knock in the tournament and also claimed the eighth frame, and he scrapped out the next with a 49 clearance to move to within one of the defending champion.

Davis showed why he is nicknamed The Battler from Hastings when he took command of the 10th frame with a break of 62, before putting Selby to the sword with a 61 clearance after a mistake by the world number one.

That set up a tense decider which lasted just short of an hour due to missed pots and a lengthy safety battle, but Selby rallied to claim victory.

If he goes on to defend his Masters title, which is played for by the world's top 16 players, Selby will become only the fourth man to do so.After his win, Selby told "I controlled the match to go 4-0 ahead, but I seemed to go back out and lose focus.

"For whatever reason, I struggled a bit. Every credit to Mark. He came back strongly. You just have to wipe out everything that has gone before and focus on the final frame.

"I've had a lot of deciding frames and managed to come through more than I've lost. I beat O'Sullivan 10-9 in the final a few years ago. It gives you confidence knowing you've won a few deciders in the past here."

In the evening game, John Higgins defeated Stuart Bingham 6-2.

Higgins took the first frame before Bingham levelled at 1-1, but then the Scot stole a march to move 5-1 ahead.

A brief rally from the 37-year-old Basildon-born Bingham saw him cut the deficit to 5-2, but the writing was on the wall and Higgins won the next frame to join Selby in the last eight.

New Sky Bet customers: Free matched bet up to £30