Ding Junhui began his quest for a fourth UK Championship title with a 6-4 win over Daniel Wells at Leicester’s Morningside Arena on Monday night.
The 2005, 2009 and 2019 UK winner will face Robbie Williams on Wednesday afternoon for a spot in the last 32 at the York Barbican after Williams defeated 2003 UK champion Matthew Stevens 6-5 on the final black.
Ding admitted he struck it luck in the 10th frame by fluking two reds after missing a long pot on a red as he compiled 64 to end the challenge of Wells.
“The safety was difficult and I saw the long pot and thought I could get the white back to baulk, but I totally missed it and the two reds went in.
“It’s down to me to stay in the top 16, I have to win matches not rely on other players’ results. This is good match practice and if I make it to York, maybe I’ll be ready.
“I love playing at the Barbican. Even if I’m not playing well, I always feel good there.”
Ricky Walden also reached the final qualifying round with a 6-5 triumph against three-time ranking event winner Marco Fu, who rolled in breaks of 97, 80, 75, 80 and 57 to force the decider from 5-3 behind.
But a closing run of 68 sealed the victory for Walden and a clash with Thai speed merchant Thepchaiya Un-Nooh after earlier compiling four 50+ breaks.
Elsewhere, Michael White moved within one win of a spot at the finals venue with a 6-5 win over World Championship semi-finalist Si Jiahui.
He will meet former European Masters champion Fan Zhengyi, who completed a 6-3 win over Martin Gould.
UK Championship: latest results
- R3: Michael White 6-5 Si Jiahui
- R3: Noppon Saengkham 6-5 James Cahill
- R3: Ricky Walden 6-5 Marco Fu
- R3: Ding Junhui 6-4 Daniel Wells
- R3: Fan Zhengyi 6-3 Martin Gould
- R3: Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 6-2 Andy Hicks
- R3: Wu Yize 6-2 David Grace
- R3: Robbie Williams 6-5 Matthew Stevens
- R2: Ken Doherty 6-3 Duane Jones
- R2: Scott Donaldson 6-2 Rory Thor
- R2: Craig Steadman 6-2 Aaron Hill
- R2: David Lilley 6-3 Sean O’Sullivan
- R2: Mark Davis 6-4 Gao Yang
- R2: Elliot Slessor 6-1 Louis Heathcote
- R2: Hammad Miah 6-1 John Astley
- R2: Mark Joyce 6-5 Iulian Boiko
- R2: Oliver Lines 6-3 Long Zehuang
- R2: Ashley Hugill 6-3 Dean Young
- R2: Alexander Ursenbacher 6-3 Tian Pengfei
- R2: Ben Woollaston 6-1 Ryan Thomerson
- R2: Ian Burns 6-0 Liam Highfield
- R2: Andy Lee 6-5 Sanderson Lam
- R2: Lukas Kleckers 6-3 Rod Lawler
- R2: Martin O’Donnell 6-5 Liu Hongyu
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