Matthew Stevens edged out Zhao Xintong 4-3 in a high quality contest to earn a place in the final stages of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open.
The qualifying round runs until Friday this week in Leicester, with places at the Waterfront Hall at stake – the televised phase to take place in October.
After losing the first frame, former UK and Masters champion Stevens took three in a row with breaks of 99, 111 and 66. China’s Zhao hit back with 75 and 51 for 3-3. The decider came down to a tactical battle on the brown, and Zhao was unlucky to go in-off when attempting safety, gifting Stevens the chance to clear for victory.
Peter Devlin came from 2-0 down to beat Alexander Ursenbacher 4-2 with a top break of 84. Cao Yupeng also made an impressive fight back, recovering a 3-1 deficit to beat Robbie Williams 4-3, compiling runs of 95 and 65 in the last two frames.
James Cahill, a late replacement for Graeme Dott, fired runs of 97, 104 and 87 in a 4-2 win over Chang Bingyu, while Lu Ning made a 33 clearance in the decider to beat Scott Donaldson 4-3.
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