Three-time champion John Higgins and last year’s runner-up Mark Allen secured routine 6-1 wins in the third round of the UK Championship.
World number seven Allen had little trouble seeing off world number 39 Ben Woollaston.
The Northern Irishman hit four breaks of more than 50 but did not need to be at his very best against an opponent who failed to take his chances.
But world number five Higgins had to work harder to beat Ian Burns.
The 44-year-old won a painstaking 55-minute opening frame on the black and then, after a re-rack, also won frames two and three with a long final black.
World number 101 Burns responded but Higgins then found his fluency with fine breaks of 96, 124 and 88 to get him over the line to set up a last-16 match with Stuart Bingham.
Higgins last won the title in 2010 but has not gone beyond the quarter-finals since the event moved to the York Barbican the following year.
Allen savours professional win
Allen, who lost to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the 2018 UK final, remained on course for a second consecutive final thanks to a professional performance that he said had room for improvement.
“It was solid but not spectacular,” said Allen, who plays Kurt Maflin in the fourth round.
“I am still in the tournament and I believe I have a good chance of winning.”
The 2003 champion Matthew Stevens also progressed into the fourth round, the Welshman securing an impressive 6-2 win over England’s Anthony Hamilton.
Seven-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan faces Noppon Saengkham of Thailand on Tuesday afternoon, with the winner of that match facing the victor from an eye-catching tie between China’s Ding Junhui and Ali Carter.
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