Mark Selby rode his luck at times en route to a 9-6 victory over Yan Bingtao at snooker's Tour Championship.
It's been a hit-and-miss campaign for the three-time world champion and this brought more of the same, his match-craft as important a factor in the outcome as the odd flourish when among the balls.
For Yan, defeat will sting - he led early, and had his chances in the evening - and yet the broader picture remains positive. This debut among snooker's very elite, and a two-session tussle with such a gritty opponent, ought to leave him better off in the long-run.
There will be regrets, though: first, that his 3-1 lead was not 4-0, and then that he couldn't quite claw his way back to parity in the evening.
Not that the Chinese could do much about the outrageous fluke which proved a fatal blow in frame 12.
Trailing 64-0, Yan somehow managed to scrap his way to a re-spotted black and had the upper hand, only for Selby to send the ball around the angles and into the corner pocket.
The Leicester man smiled as he apologised, the pair leaving the arena for the mid-session interval. At 7-5, he could afford to do so; had the score been levelled at 6-6, who knows what might have happened upon their return.
As it was, Selby capitalised on his fortune in that ruthless way of his, a 105 break in frame 13 his second of the match, and suddenly Yan's hopes had all but vanished.
He replied with a break of 51, but it was just his third half-century of the match and it came too late. In the end, Selby had both the run of the balls and the greater ability to score when among them, and deserved his victory.
It was a tale of two mini-sessions on Monday afternoon, Bingtao establishing a 3-1 lead before Selby wrested back the advantage at 4-3, only to lose the final frame and ensure it was all to play for in this best-of-17 encounter.
While Bingtao ought to have won the first frame only to make a hash of what would've been a fine steal, he didn't let it unsettle him on his debut in the tournament, soon work his way into a two-frame advantage.
But the break midway through the afternoon halted his momentum, and he became sloppy as Selby took over with breaks of 99 and 119 helping him to lead 4-3.
The former world champion appeared set to land a killer blow in the eighth and final frame after a fine, long red, but he then missed a fairly straightforward follow-up to middle and left Bingtao among the balls.
Although never quite in control of the cue-ball - hence no century - the Chinese youngster displayed heaps of courage to grind out parity and ensure the match was perfectly poised heading into the second and final session.
Daily schedule & results
- Matches played over two sessions, beginning at 1330 BST and 1900 BST
- Quarter-finals and semi-finals best of 17 frames; final best of 19
- * denotes latest score between sessions
Saturday June 20
- Neil Robertson 5-9 Stephen Maguire
Sunday June 21
- Judd Trump 9-4 John Higgins
Monday June 22
- Mark Selby 9-6 Yan Bingtao
Tuesday June 23
- Shaun Murphy v Mark Allen
Wednesday June 24
- Judd Trump v Stephen Maguire
Thursday June 25
- Mark Selby v Murphy/Allen
Friday June 26
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