MARK Selby survived a huge scare against qualifier Michael White at the Crucible on Monday night to take his place in the last 16.
The 30-year-old from Leicester, a former Dafabet World Championship finalist, edged past Welshman White 10-9 in yet another thrilling first-round encounter.
Three-time Masters champion Selby, the world No3, came in to the tournament in Sheffield rated as one of the main rivals to favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan.
But he was pushed all the way by the 22-year-old White, who was so impressive in reaching the quarter-finals 12 months ago.
White rallied from 8-4 down and then levelled again at 9-9 – but Selby is a renowned final-frame specialist and held his nerve.
“I am just relieved more than anything,” said Selby, who now plays Ali Carter. “A lot of the big names have had close matches in the first round this year.
“As long as you get through somehow it can give you confidence that your game is there when you really need it.
“I had a blonde moment at 8-8 when I played the pink as a free ball the referee had not given and fouled it – but luckily I got away with it.”
White said: “I am desperately disappointed. I was proud of myself getting back into the match from 8-4 down but fair play to him in the decider. I never really had a decent chance and he made a good break.”
Meanwhile Kyren Wilson got a tough lesson in what the Crucible is all about after seeing an early lead overturned against last year’s semi-finalist Ricky Walden.
The 22-year-old from Northamptonshire, so impressive in winning four qualifying matches including a victory over former world champion Graeme Dott, led 3-1 at the mid-session interval.
But a combination of an improving Walden and a few bits of bad luck, notably failing to finish on colours after long-pot reds, saw that wiped away.
And the 31-year-old from Chester won five frames on the spin to take a commanding 6-3 lead into Tuesday’s concluding frames.
Photographs by Monique Limbos