Judd Trump overcame his “atrocious” UK Championship record to edge China’s Xiao Guodong in a final-frame decider and book his place in the last 16 in York.
Despite winning the tournament in 2011 and boasting two subsequent final appearances, Trump has always struggled to deliver his best form in the second biggest tournament of the season.
History looked set to repeat itself as he struggled for long periods against Xiao, the world number 34, nudging in front for the first time in the seventh frame and missing a glorious chance to wrap things up before finally creeping over the line.
“My record here is just atrocious,” Trump told the BBC. “Every game seems to go the same – I come well into the tournament then I go out there and I can’t pot a ball.
“I don’t know what it is. I feel good and I end up messing it up. I’m happy to get through because I love the prestige of this event and I’d have been devastated to be going home after the first game.”
Xiao won the opener from behind and delivered a fine break of 118 in the third frame as his steady brand of snooker seemed to frustrate Trump, who had chances but continually failed to kill off frames in a single visit.
Trump looked to have wrested control when he got the better of a lengthy safety battle to move one frame away at 5-4, only to fluff a simple red in what should have been a match-winning clearance in the next, enabling Xiao to respond with an excellent 60 to force the decider.
This time it was Xiao who slipped up by attempting an ambitious safety that left a red open for Trump and world number three retained his composure to fire a break of 88 and clinch victory.
There were no such problems for Trump’s good friend Jack Lisowski, who fired breaks of 73, 83 and 66 as he cruised to a 6-1 win over another Chinese player, Xu Si.