World Snooker Championship: Five-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan makes stellar start to lead 8-1


Ronnie O’Sullivan took an 8-1 lead in his first round match against Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh at the World Championship at the Crucible.

O’Sullivan, 44, averaged 13.4 seconds per stroke as he took seven breaks in 50, including two centuries.

He needs two executives on Monday morning to secure a place in the second round against China’s Ding Junhui.

It happened on a day when John Higgins, Neil Robertson and Kurt Maflin all sealed places in the second round.

2010 Australian world champion Robertson produced a consummate performance in a 10-5 win over China’s Liang Wenbo, while four-time Scottish champion John Higgins managed a 10-5 victory over the Country of Wales Matthew Stevens.

Higgins, who reached Crucible’s last three finals, had led 6-3 overnight and now faces Norwegian Maflin, who won a tense encounter with 2019 semi-finalist David Gilbert

The qualifier Maflin was warned for making an obscene move in the 16th frame of his 10-8 win over the Englishman, after his hopes of a maximum break ended when he ran out of position forward -last red.

“It was just one of those reactions,” Malfin said.

“I didn’t mean anything by that. It was purely an assault on the white ball.

“I thought the referee was telling me to put on my jersey. It doesn’t look great but I managed to get rid of it because I thought surely no one could take it that seriously. “

Neil Robertson won five successive frames to facilitate victory over Liang Wenbo

Robertson, who started Sunday night’s session with a 5-4 lead over Wenbo, will face England’s Barry Hawkins or Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher next.

Earlier on Sunday, China’s Yan Bingtao took a 7-1 lead over England debutant Elliot Slessor in a game that ends Monday afternoon.

O’Sullivan lives up to his nickname

The Rocket last reached a Crucible final in 2014, but he started his bid for a sixth world title convincingly.

Breaks of 101, 85 and 115 saw O’Sullivan win the top three frames and he clinically punished every mistake his opponent made to go 6-0.

Un-Nooh, who potted just one ball in the first three frames, won the seventh frame but was guilty of costly misfires.

Until he finally entered the set, it had seemed increasingly likely that he would become just the third player – after Eddie Charlton and Luo Honghao – to undergo a Crucible Whitewash.


John Parrott, the 1991 world champion

It was a demolition. Ronnie O’Sullivan has been sublime throughout. There will be stronger opposition, but if he maintains that form it will take a lot of saves.

The lack of razzmatazz around the place is probably going to suit him, even upon entering the room.

He is the biggest draw in the sport but there is no crowd outside and it is much less aggravating for him.

When you see him playing so well, you think there must be some other factor as to why he hasn’t reached the final recently.


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