Ronnie O'Sullivan fought from behind to reach the quarter-finals of the 2021 UK Championship with a 6-3 victory over Thailand's Noppon Saengkham.
Rarely finding his best form around the table in a relatively messy last-16 encounter, O'Sullivan appeared set to fall 4-2 behind as Saengkham emerged after the mid-session interval with a degree of fluency.
Yet after the Thai ran out of position and missed a difficult red, O'Sullivan was able to snatch the first of four successive frames to seal a comeback victory.
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The Englishman, who will celebrate 46th birthday on Sunday, signed off with the sole century break of the match to reach a record 18th quarter-final at the UK Championship and set up a meeting with either Kyren Wilson or Ben Woollaston.
Saengkham took an early lead, requiring two visits to the table but leaving O'Sullivan needing snookers and taking the opening frame.
The second almost saw a moment of controversy as O'Sullivan turned down a full ball shot on the black for an around-the-table safety behind the brown, but after missing twice the Englishman was not warned by the referee that a further miss would see him concede the frame.
However the marker alerted the official to his error before O'Sullivan could play, and O'Sullivan reset to play safe off the black, before assembling a tidy break of 76 to even things up.
Having warned that he could beat "The Rocket" ahead of a meeting with a player he considers one of his heroes, Saengkham showed few signs of being overawed in back and forth opening skirmishes, and with a collection of particularly clean long pots, he was able to take the third.
O'Sullivan finally found his true flow at the table to level things up in the final frame before the mid-session interval, compiling a delightful break of 98 but unable to generate the final red from the left-hand cushion into a potting position when seemingly destined for a break in excess of 130.
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It nonetheless meant each player disappeared back down the tunnel reasonably content with their early efforts.
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A potentially crucial first frame after the resumption was stolen by Saengkham after O'Sullivan missed a black while amongst the balls. An outstanding rattled red along the cushion allowed the Thai to begin his clearance, moving ahead in the frame with the pink and ahead in the match with the black.
He looked the favourite to extend his lead, too, splitting the group nicely off the black but then running out of position and missing a tough red.
By this point the match had taken on a scratchier feel, with each player failing to take their opportunities with the balls spread, but O'Sullivan eventually took frame six to level proceedings again despite a mis-step on the yellow.
Edging the sixth re-racking appeared to renew O'Sullivan's confidence, and the energised 45-year-old put together a rapid break of 74, with his Thai opponent unable to force snookers and eventually ceding the frame and a lead to O'Sullivan for the first time in the match.
The Englishman appeared set to consolidate his lead and move one frame away from victory as he again began to strut about the baize in frame eight, but ran out of position having made 44.
Saengkham was unable to capitalise, an unlikely red zipping down the cushion but leaping from the jaws, and O'Sullivan secured a 5-3 lead with a third successive frame.
And he sealed the match in style with the first century break of the match despite another early error in his first visit.
O'Sullivan will face English opposition in the last eight, awaiting the winner of a clash of compatriots between Wilson, who has never gone beyond the quarter-finals at a UK Championship, and Woollaston.
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