Ronnie O’Sullivan continued his quest for an eighth UK Championship title with a 6-3 third-round victory over Mark King.
O’Sullivan was always ahead after opening with breaks of 108 and 70, and even though King battled to stay in the contest he couldn't avoid defeat.
The Rocket will face Noppon Saengkham or Stuart Bingham in the fourth round.
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O’Sullivan looked on his game from the start as King failed to pot a ball in the first two frames.
After a safety battle to open the match, O’Sullivan rattled in a break of 108, helped by a brilliant positional shot to get around the table to the last red.
He then followed up with a 70 as King spent most of the early stages in his chair.
King got on the board in the third frame but was fortunate not to fall 3-0 behind as O’Sullivan missed a routine red that could have seen him clinch the frame. Jimmy White and Alan McManus were both in disbelief in the Eurosport studio at the miss.
However, O’Sullivan bounced back to take the next frame and go into the mid-session interval with a strong lead.
King hit back when play resumed as a break of 77 saw him pull just one frame behind.
A long red got O'Sullivan rolling in the sixth frame and he knocked in a break of 84 to restore his two-frame advantage. However, he still couldn't shake King.
After O'Sullivan called a foul on himself when he tried to play the white among a group of reds, King clawed back another frame to get to 4-3.
Higgins falls to Zhao in shock
Zhao Xintong pulled off an incredible comeback to send John Higgins packing in their fourth-round encounter.
Ranked No 26 in the world, Zhao took the first frame but then fell behind, with a break of 80 in the second frame the early highlight for Higgins as the three-time winner took a 3-1 lead.
Zhao closed the gap with a break of 68, but Higgins – who last won the tournament in 2010 – then restored his two-frame advantage when edging the sixth 58-52.
A 110 break helped Zhao reduce the deficit to 4-3, but again Higgins bounced back to move within a frame of victory.
Undeterred, Zhao won the next two frames to force a decider, which he then won by showing nerves of steel with a break of 83.
“I think he was by far the better player. I was pretty poor all day, nicking a few frames. He deserved to win,” Higgins said.
“When I missed a terrible red I knew I was going to lose 6-5. If you don’t take your chances you don’t deserve it.”
Zhao will face Sam Craigie or Peter Lines for a place in the quarter-finals.
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