Ronnie O’Sullivan eased into the second round of the World Championship with a 10-5 win over David Gilbert.
He did the damage with six unanswered frames on Saturday, after losing the first three, and withstood a mini-fightback from Gilbert on Sunday to book his place in round two at the Crucible.
Having taken part on the first afternoon, O’Sullivan will hope he is involved on the 17th and final day. The World Championship is a marathon as opposed to a sprint and there’s little value in producing top-drawer snooker on day one.
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O’Sullivan showed glimpses of brilliance, but with the promise of much more to come.
Gilbert arrived at the Crucible on Sunday knowing he had to get in the fight early.
O’Sullivan left Gilbert a tough tempter in the opening frame and the calculated gamble paid off, as the effort stayed above ground and, importantly, offered a chance to O’Sullivan. It was a good chance but, surprisingly, the world No. 1 ran out of position on 58 and offered up an opportunity to Gilbert.
Gilbert saw O'Sullivan run through six frames on the spin on Saturday afternoon, but he stopped the rot with an excellent clearance to cut the gap to two.
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O’Sullivan’s miss in the 10th was surprising but not worrying, as it was a tough red to the left middle after he ran out of position. What followed in the 11th was a worry, as he was in the balls and gliding round the table - only to miss a routine red to bottom left. For the second frame in a row, Gilbert punished the error as a break of 82 cut the deficit to one.
For the third frame in a row on Sunday, O’Sullivan got in first. There was no miss on this occasion, as he picked off a glorious 109 - his 50th ton of the season.
'He needed this' - O'Sullivan produces brilliant break of 109 to take a two-frame lead
It wasn’t quite panic stations for O’Sullivan, but taking the third of the session was a nerve settler.
After three frames of quality snooker, the fourth of the session was a cagey, 31-minute battle. Gilbert looked well placed on the colours when putting O’Sullivan in a tough snooker, but he escaped and fluked the yellow into the bottom left and went on to restore his three-frame advantage.
O’Sullivan returned from the interval and looked razor sharp in moving to within one frame of victory with a break of 81, which included a couple of shots that belonged on the exhibition circuit.
Losing the frames either side of the interval sapped Gilbert's resolve and his race was run when O’Sullivan powered in a long red and knocked in a break of 42 to seal his place in round two.
The 10-5 scoreline did not do justice to Gilbert who has likely played worse and won matches, but O’Sullivan was too big an obstacle to overcome.
O’Sullivan’s fellow Class of 92’ alum, Mark Williams is showing no signs of slowing down. He also showed no mercy to his fellow Welshman Michael White as he powered into a 7-2 lead.
Williams hit three tons and a series of other quality breaks, but to White’s credit he won the final two frames of the session to keep afloat.
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