World Snooker Championship: Mark Allen beats Jimmy Robertson in Sheffield
Antrim's Mark Allen showed nerves of steel to make a match-winning break of 97 and seal a dramatic 10-8 victory over English qualifier Jimmy Robertson at the Betfred World Championships in Sheffield.
The 31-year-old Northern Irishman led 5-4 after a nip and tuck first session with Allen hitting his second century of the match in the final frame to earn a narrow lead.
But there was absolutely nothing between the pair on Tuesday night in the race to ten frames with neither player able to establish more than a single frame advantage until the death.
Allen, a Crucible semi-finallist in 2009, is making his 11th appearance at the famed Sheffield theatre and has reached the second round in each of the last three years.
Robertson came out firing on Tuesday and immediately drew level at 5-5 before a break of 62 put the 30-year-old from Bexhill-on-Sea back in front.
Allen needed to show all his character to draw level twice more, the second time with a break of 60, as both players struggled to gain genuine momentum.
The Northern Irishman took an 8-7 lead but an assured break of 66 from Robertson brought the scores level once more as the pressure on both players continued to intensify.
Breaks of 25 and 38 restored Allen's lead 9-8 before he finally sealed the match with a knock of 97.
Elsewhere, 2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy set up a second round match with Ronnie O'Sullivan after battling past the stubborn resistance of 17-year-old Yan Bingtao 10-8.
The fifth seed was arguably a fluked red away from a deciding frame before an assured clearance, but he admitted he still felt a real pressure at the Crucible Theatre.
"It's very hard to stand and pot those balls when you can't stand still, when body parts are moving that you didn't know you had. This place does very funny things," he said.
"You wouldn’t feel pressure like that in any other tournament, it's mad."
Another former champion, Stuart Bingham, will face Kyren Wilson in the second round after getting the better of Peter Ebdon 10-5 but he knows improvements will be necessary against the 14th-seed.
"Kyren beat me a couple of weeks ago in China so hopefully I'll get revenge on him but I'll need to improve to go on in the tournament," said Bingham.
Watch the Snooker World Championship Live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player, with Colin Murray and analysis from Jimmy White and Neal Foulds