NEIL Robertson remains on course to grab the world No1spot back from rival Mark Selby.
The 32-year-old eased into the last 16 of his home Australian Open with a 5-2 win over Andrew Higginson in Bendigo.
Robertson topped the rankings for almost the entire season last term only to be toppled by Mark Selby with his world championship success.
But Robertson, who plays Jamie Jones for a place in the quarter-finals on Thursday can regain his status by reaching the final.
Selby and world No3 Ding Junhui are absent, having not entered the event.
Robertson looked tired and understandably a little off the pace against Higginson following his late arrival Down Under from China, where he won the Wuxi Classic on Sunday.
But Higginson let him off the hook on numerous occasions, notably two scrappy frames which could easily have seen the world No38 from Widnes 4-2 up himself.
Robertson said: “It was a tough match, last season there was a week between these two tournaments.
“Obviously I was a bit tired flying in from China on Monday night and having just a day to get ready but I won a couple of vital close frames.
“But hopefully I can recover fully and get on a good run here.”
Martin Gould mounted a spirited recovery to beat Michael Holt on Wednesday.
Former Shootout winner Gould trailed 2-0 but levelled things up at the mid-session interval.
And the 32-year-old from Pinner needed a snooker in frame eight – but got it, and then the black he required, to be able to close out the match 5-3.
Gould now faces Ricky Walden with a place in the last eight at stake.
Photographs by Monique Limbos