RONNIE O’SULLIVAN continued his bid for a third consecutive UK Championship title after defeating Noppon Saengkham 6-2 at the Barbican.

The five-time world champion has won the competition seven times previously - more than any other player - and in the past two years at the York venue.

A third straight title on Sunday would make him the first player to achieve such a feat since Stephen Hendry over 20 years ago, back in 1996.

O’Sullivan ensured even more history at his most successful Triple Crown event already though.

His victory over Saengkham was his 70th UK Championship match win, taking him ahead of Steve Davis.

There’s still a long way for O’Sullivan to go before then though, with his win over Saengkham taking him into the last 16 to face Ding Junhui - a former UK champion in 2005 and 2009.

Thailand’s Saengkham hit a 54 break in the opening frame but top seed O’Sullivan recovered to win it 70-54.

For the first time in this year’s competition, O’Sullivan conceded a frame as Saengkham levelled the scores in the next frame.

But O’Sullivan hit a 76 break and then pinched the next one to lead 3-1 at the mid-session interval.

The two players exchanged frames after the restart but breaks of 97 and 65 saw him take frames seven and eight respectively and secure progression to the next round, which takes place on Thursday afternoon.

O’Sullivan had been grimacing throughout the match and revealed his foot problems due to his running after the match.

He said: “I’ve had problems with my foot for ages, that’s why I didn’t run for four months - I’ve been resting it.

“I couldn’t stop running forever, so I went back to it four or five weeks ago.

“It’s been really sore again. I’ll see someone in January, but I’ll probably be having painkillers.

“I’m not prepared to stop running, I’m just going to have to manage it.

“I won’t run on the days that I’m playing and hopefully that makes it a little bit better.

“I don’t want to pull out, obviously.

“It’s just like a really bad bruise to be honest and it’s quite a common running injury.

“For me, running is more important to me than snooker.

“Snooker is just a hobby to me whereas running is something that I really love.”

Elsewhere, O’Sullivan’s fourth round opponent was confirmed as Ding fended off a spirited comeback to defeat Ali Carter 6-4.

Ding raced in a 4-0 lead at the interval scoring three 50-plus breaks and a century (104).

Twice world championship finalist Carter responded with breaks of 100 and 85 in the next frames after the break.

But, Ding’s high-scoring continued with 71 and 52 breaks coming two of the next three frames before the former world number one capped the match with a high-break of 116.

14th seed Stephen Maguire also booked his spot in the next round thanks to a 6-2 victory over fellow Scot Graeme Dott.

Maguire struck breaks of 115 and 106 in frames two and seven en route to victory.

Liang Wenbo progressed to the round of 16 for the first time since his run to the final in 2015.

The Chinese star was level at 4-4 with Eden Sharav before scoring respective 66 and 75 breaks in the last two frames to win 6-4.

Wenbo faces Chinese compatriot Li Hang next.