WORLD NO.1 Neil Robertson survived a tough battle with Anthony Hamilton to keep his China Open title defence on track on Beijing on Monday.
Robertson, who beat Mark Selby 10-6 in the final 12 months ago, won 5-4 after three hours, 11 minutes of playing time had elapsed.
The tone was set in the first frame, which Robertson pinched on the black. The Australian failed to add to his centuries tally for the season of 92 but won two more close frames on the way to claiming a 4-2 lead.
Hamilton, runner-up in the 2002 China Open, rallied to 4-4, making an 84 break in the eighth frame, but Robertson got in front with 57 in the decider and eventually did enough to set up an encounter with three times China Open champion Mark Williams or Scotland’s Anthony McGill.
Veteran former British Open champion Nigel Bond delivered a blow to Barry Pinches’s chances of ending the season inside the top 64 by beating the Norwich man 5-2.
Kyren Wilson, a quarter-finalist in the Shanghai Masters last September, was beaten 5-3 by Jamie O’Neill.
Mark King survived a deciding frame finish to beat Aditya Mehta, this season’s Indian Open runner-up, 5-4.
Sam Baird was the only qualifier to lose to a wildcard when he was beaten 5-2 by Zhao Xintong.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.