ALI CARTER held his nerve to fight past Crucible debutant Xiao Guodong and reach the second round of the Dafabet World Championship in Sheffield on Sunday.
Following an afternoon full of twists and turns Carter, the runner-up in the game’s showpiece event 2008 and 2012, won 10-8.
He resumed with a 5-4 overnight lead, fell behind for the first time in the match at 6-5 but responded with a run of 81 to draw level.
Carter added the last before the interval but missed a straightforward yellow in frame 14 and Xiao made 70 for 7-7.
The next was error strewn and fell to Carter, who was nicely in on 59 in frame 16 only to hold the spot in potting the pink. With no other spots available, the pink went as close to the spot as possible, obscuring any pot on a red. Carter played safe but Xiao knocked in a great long red and made a brilliant pressure clearance of 69 for 8-8.
Carter shook his head in disbelief but enjoyed a large stroke of luck at the start of the 17th when he missed a long red but fluked it. He went on to make a break of 80 to lead 9-8 and got home in three scoring visits in the last.
Carter said: “I went out with a game-plan to attack and it cost me in the first session. Today, he played well. He doesn’t look at any time like he’s under pressure, there’s no emotion. But there’s pressure out there and that clearance he did to go 8-8 was massive. All credit to myself for making a good 80 break and then playing a granite decider.
“Every time I was on the floor I picked myself up and did it. I seem to be able to do that, so that’s good."
Carter had dropped out of the top 16 earlier in the season after missing tournaments to receive treatment for testicular cancer and still has ongoing issues with his Crohn’s disease. However, he regained his place in the elite bracket to avoid having to pre-qualify for Sheffield, and reached the semi-finals of the most recent event, the China Open in Beijing.
He said: “When you’ve gone through what I've gone through you have no fear. My goal was to get back in the top 16 so I didn’t have to qualify. I made trips to China so I could get my top 16 place but now there’s new goals to set and I’ll try and achieve them.”
Ding Junhui made a slow start before claiming a 6-3 first session lead over debutant Michael Wasley.
Ding, who is looking to win a record sixth ranking title in a single season, trailed the 24 year-old from Gloucester 3-2 but won the last four frames of the afternoon, with a 136 total clearance in the seventh frame the highlight.
China’s no.1 was left requiring four frames on Monday afternoon to advance to the last 16. His best performance in the World Championship to date was a semi-final appearance in 2011.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.