London (AFP) - Chinese teenager Yan Bingtao's superb comeback against former world champion Shaun Murphy fell just short on Monday as he lost 10-8 in the first round of this year's World Championships.
The 17-year-old, whose display illustrated the strength in depth in the country's playing resources inspired largely by last year's finalist Ding Junhui, threatened at one point to become the youngest player to win a match at the championships at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
The record is held by seven-time champion Stephen Hendry, who was 18 when he beat Willie Thorne in the first round in 1987.
Yan trailed 7-3 and then was one frame away from defeat at the hands of the 34-year-old English cueman at 9-5 down, but the world number 63 rattled off three successive frames.
Despite this ominous run Murphy, the 2005 champion, benefited from the luck he needed with a red to get him over the line in the 19th frame and set up a second-round meeting with compatriot and five-time winner Ronnie O'Sullivan.
"I played well but at 9-5 up he opened his shoulders and I was bang up against it at the end," said Murphy, who had lost twice to Yan in their three previous matches.
"This place does funny things to you and I had a bit of Lady Luck. But I can't praise him enough. He has a bit of swagger about him."
Ding, who lost to Mark Selby last year after becoming the first Asian to reach the final, showed sparkling form in his opening match, firing off three century breaks including the biggest so far of the tournament, 136.
His onslaught knocked the stuffing out of compatriot Zhou Yuelong, who trails 7-2 overnight with Ding looking to finish him off in Tuesday's afternoon session.
Hong Kong veteran and two-time semi-finalist Marco Fu pulled off a stunning comeback in his first-round match by coming from 7-2 down against Belgian Luca Brecel to win 10-9.
In a battle of two English former world champions a brief comeback by Peter Ebdon was extinguished by 2015 champion Stuart Bingham.
The world number three ran out a 10-5 winner over the 2004 world champion, who had to qualify for the tournament this year.