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Page last updated at 20:10 GMT, Saturday, 18 April 2009 21:10 UK

O'Sullivan breezes into round two

World Snooker Championship
Date: 18 April-4 May Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
Coverage: Live coverage each day on BBC Two, BBC Red Button and BBC Sport website (UK only), updates on BBC Radio 5 Live. Full TV schedule

Ronnie O'Sullivan

Rocket starts title defence in style

World champion Ronnie O'Sullivan cruised through to the second round with a 10-5 victory over practice partner Stuart Bingham.

O'Sullivan began the evening session 6-3 ahead after making breaks of 61, 140, 104 and 73 in the morning.

When the pair resumed, O'Sullivan countered Bingham's breaks of 80 and 100 with runs of 78 and 94 as they shared the first four frames.

And O'Sullivan sealed victory with a 100 break and a 97 clearance.

Asked to judge his performance out of 10, O'Sullivan said: "Five. Something like that.

The negative thoughts come creeping in and you can start beating yourself rather than your opponent beating you

Ronnie O'Sullivan

"I need to make a bit of improvement to my game. Scoring was good but I never normally have problems when I get among the balls.

"That is my strength. It's the other areas which need a bit of improving on.

"To make life a bit easier I need to find a little bit of extra consistency in other areas of my game, and then I'll be a bit more professional, a bit more complete.

"It would be nice to have to find the (top) gear so often, and just pace myself a bit more.

"There were times I felt I was losing a bit of interest. Missing pots by a long way can get a bit frustrating and you can sometimes question yourself and think what am I doing wrong here?

"The negative thoughts come creeping in and you can start beating yourself rather than your opponent beating you."

O'Sullivan is aiming to become the first player in 13 years to retain the crown, with Stephen Hendry - who won every year from 1992 to 1996 - the last player to achieve the feat.

In the second frame, O'Sullivan took barely seven minutes to construct a smooth total clearance of 140, playing both left-handed and right-handed shots and appearing fully at ease with his game.

He was chasing a maximum in the ninth frame, but after potting 10 reds he found the jaws of the top-left pocket with the 10th black.

He still had a lead of 73, but the black was not difficult, and a maximum break would have been worth £157,000 to O'Sullivan - £147,000 for the 147, plus £10,000 for the highest break prize.


O'Sullivan will now take on the winner of the match between Mark Allen and Martin Gould, which starts on Sunday.

The first-round contest between seven-time champion Hendry and two-time winner Mark Williams looks set to go to the wire after a thrilling opening session.

Hendry seemed to take charge of the match, a repeat of the 1999 final, when he raced into a 4-1 lead with breaks of 72 and 61.

But Williams, 34, responded with runs of 57, 44, 66 and 45 to take a 5-4 lead into Sunday's deciding session.

Scotland'sGraeme Dott, the 2006 champion, is 5-4 down in his first-round match against Barry Hawkins, who rattled in a break of 129 in the sixth frame.

The opening session of the match between world number 44 Rory McLeod, the only player of Afro-Caribbean descent competing at snooker's highest level, and Mark King was an attritional affair with the players being hauled off after only six frames because of the slow nature of their play.

Their match was halted after a 54-minute sixth frame, with tournament officials fearing they would not manage another before the scheduled start of the afternoon session.

The match is tied at 3-3 with King making breaks of 70 and 61.

Last year's runner-up Ali Carter, who won his first ranking title at the recent Welsh Open, is 6-3 in front after the first session of his match against Kent-based Northern Ireland player Gerard Greene.

Breaks of 89, 91 and 53 put Carter 6-1 ahead but Greene gave himself a chance by winning the final two frames of the session.

On Sunday, bookmaker's second-favourite Mark Selby faces a potentially tough opener with Ricky Walden, while Tuesday sees the first all-Chinese clash as Ding Junhui takes on Liang Wenbo.

Six-time champion Steve Davis will make a record 29th appearance at the tournament on Tuesday against Australian Neil Robertson, while two-time champion John Higgins, who O'Sullivan has picked out as his main rival for the title, starts against Michael Holt on Wednesday.

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see also
World Championship latest scores
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World Championship draw
07 Apr 09 |  Snooker
Cope excited by Crucible return
16 Apr 09 |  Snooker
Ebdon fires warning to O'Sullivan
15 Apr 09 |  Snooker
Higgins or me to win - O'Sullivan
10 Apr 09 |  Snooker
Tabb named Crucible final referee
14 Apr 09 |  Snooker
Hendry to face Williams in Worlds
11 Mar 09 |  Snooker
Burnett to make Crucible return
09 Mar 09 |  Snooker
Snooker on the BBC
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News of the World Ronnie O'Sullivan: I'm the best - 5 hrs ago
Observer O'Sullivan bandwagon rolling with Bingham victory - 7 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Snooker: World Championship: Ronnie O'Sullivan set for No1 spot after opening win - 11 hrs ago
Daily Express O'Sullivan misses maximum chance - 11 hrs ago
Sky Sports Rocket wins, misses maximum - 13 hrs ago