The “Magician” is a three-time former finalist and won the tournament back in 2008.
Shaun Murphy lasted the distance before holding on to beat Lee Walker in the first round of the UK Championship on Tuesday in Milton Keynes.
After a slow start, the Englishman appeared to gain control when he established 4-2 and 5-3 advantages, but his opponent fought back to win two tense frames and force a decider.
Murphy’s contribution of 54 in the eleventh frame proved to be vital as he edged his way through to the last 64 with the clocks ticking past midnight.
Meanwhile, Kyren Wilson scored a magnificent 147 break in his hard-fought defeat of Ashley Hugill on day two of the competition.
The Kettering cueist scored heavily, compiling a brace of tons and two 90 breaks, but found it difficult to shake off the challenger and eventually recorded a 6-4 success.
The 147 break in the sixth frame represents the 17th in the UK Championship’s long history – the most made in any professional tournament.
Elsewhere, last year’s runner-up Stephen Maguire wasted little time in thumping Ukrainian teenager Iulian Boiko 6-1.
Maguire made a break above 60 in every frame he won, including two centuries, as he coasted through to the second round.
Thepchiaya Un-Nooh boosted his ambitions of competing in the Masters this season with a 6-2 victory over Lukas Kleckers, while fellow top 16 member David Gilbert beat Fan Zhengyi 6-3.
Gary Wilson’s exit proved to be the biggest upset of the day at the Marshall Arena – the Newcastle potter suffering a 6-4 reverse against Oliver Lines that puts his own chances of earning a Masters invitation in jeopardy.
Among the others to secure first-round triumphs in the UK Championship were Luca Brecel, Michael Holt, Ricky Walden, and Mark King.
The action continues on Wednesday with seven-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and Australian world number three Neil Robertson entering the fray.
O’Sullivan is the second favourite with most bookmakers behind world number one Judd Trump.