Mark Allen made a quickfire return to the Crucible on Saturday morning to claim the one frame he required and move into the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship for the first time since 2018.
The 37-year-old required just 15 minutes to fashion a break of 68 and turn a 12-4 overnight lead into a 13-4 win against the 2015 champion Stuart Bingham, setting up a last-eight clash against qualifier Jak Jones, who completed a stunning win over former champion Neil Robertson.
Allen, who is intent on rectifying a dismal Crucible record that has seen him reach this stage just four times since a solitary semi-final appearance in 2009, said he had been inspired by a bracelet given to him by his five-year-old daughter, Harley.
“It just says ‘dad’ on it. It’s pinks and purples and stuff, not really my favourite colours, but it helps keep my mind at rest. It’s good to have that happy thought in your head and get ready for the next one.”
Allen did the damage in the second session of their second-round match on Friday, in which he extended an early 5-3 advantage and was only denied victory with a session to spare when Bingham clinched the last frame of the day.
Despite the emphatic nature of his win, coming on the back of a stellar season in which he has won three titles and reached another final, Allen has endured too much Crucible heartbreak to rest on his laurels.
“I made a few silly mistakes here and there, but in general I thought I scored much better,” added Allen.
“I have confidence in my results but not really in my performances. To win the World Championship, you need to be better than what I’ve shown this year, but as long as I keep winning matches and tournaments I’ll be happy.”
And the Australian will have to wait longer for redemption at the famous venue after Jones turned a 10-6 overnight advantage into a 13-7 win that makes him the first debutant to reach the last eight since Anthony McGill in 2015.
“It wasn’t really a shock to me but it was a shock to everyone else,” said Jones, who came out on top of an attritional battle after Robertson’s opening 83 – after the Welshman missed a vital red on 52 – had hinted at a comeback.
“I wouldn’t say it’s the best I’ve ever played or felt, but it’s probably the biggest match I’ve won,” added Jones. “I had no idea how I’d feel but it’s nice to play so well out there at such a famous venue.”
McGill, who ousted Judd Trump in the opening round, mercilessly punished a series of errors by his opponent to compile three centuries and three more breaks in excess of 50 to charge into a 7-1 overnight lead.
It gives McGill, who featured in one of the all-time great Crucible clashes in his 2020 last eight loss to Kyren Wilson, the real chance of wrapping up victory with a session to spare when they resume on Sunday afternoon.
Chinese crucible debutant Si Jiahui kicked off the first session in style with a 6-2 lead over Robert Milkins. Despite dropping the first frame, Si rattled off four straight frames to take a lead into the next session.
Four-time champion Mark Selby won three frames in a row to hold a 5-3 lead over Gary Wilson overnight.