Mathew Stevens edged out after brave fightback
Number 14 seed Jack Lisowski held off a fightback from Carmarthen’s Matthew Stevens to progress to the second round of Snookers World Championship with a 10-8 victory.
Lisowski had resumed with a 6-3 lead over Stevens, who had qualified for the tournament for the first time since 2020, but that was soon wiped out following a swift start from the Welshman with two half-century breaks and a 99 clearance helping him level.
Lisowski regrouped to take the next three, including breaks of 78 and 83, only for Stevens to respond again and cut the deficit back to 9-8.
The 18th frame proved another tense affair, which Lisowski eventually took 93-33 to book a showdown with Australia’s Neil Robertson for a place in the quarter-finals.
Earlier, four-time champion John Higgins eventually saw off Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10-7 to move through to the last 16, where he will play either Luca Brecel or Noppon Saengkham, with the latter leading 6-2 after the opening session.
Higgins, who won the last of his world titles in 2011, levelled the match at 5-5 on the back of a 75 break in Wednesday morning’s lengthy opening frame which lasted almost half an hour.
Another clearance of 53 was followed by a century as the veteran Scot, an eight-time finalist, took a 7-6 lead into the mid-session interval.
Following the restart, Un-Nooh recovered to stay in touch at 8-7, but Higgins eventually edged a nervy 16th frame 58-40 to move within one of victory, which he secured with another classy half-century clearance.
Kyren Wilson, runner-up in 2020, won four of the last five frames to beat Ding Junhui 10-8.
Wilson was trailing for most of the match but came good with some clutch matchplay, with breaks of 65 and 62 when the match was tied at 8-8.
Former world champion Judd Trump established a 6-3 lead in his first-round match against debutant Hossein Vafaei at the Crucible.
Trump had looked to play down expectations of another success after claiming just one ranking event title which came at the inaugural Turkish Masters last month.
However, the Crucible crowd were treated to a vintage display during the opening frames of Wednesday’s afternoon match, with a break of 110 seeing 2019 champion Trump open up a 3-0 lead.
Iranian Vafaei, though, had his first World Championship frame on the board to reduce the deficit ahead of the mid-session interval.
Qualifier Vafaei was a level at 3-3 after also edging the fifth and then taking the next with a break of 99 after just missing the chance of a maiden century on the final red.
A composed run of 56 helped Trump take the seventh frame, and the former champion edged 5-3 ahead following a rerack in the next before a 73 clearance increased his advantage to take into Thursday’s conclusion.
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