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  Saturday, 20 April, 2002, 21:45 GMT 22:45 UK
O'Sullivan eases through
Ronnie O'Sullivan
O'Sullivan is aiming for a second straight crown
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By Saj Chowdhury
BBC Sport Online at the Crucible
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Ronnie O'Sullivan began the defence of his world snooker title in solid fashion with a 10-5 first round victory over Drew Henry.

'The Rocket' launched his bid for a second successive crown by easing his way through to a meeting with either number 16 seed Fergal O'Brien or qualifier Robert Milkins.

Resuming the evening session 6-3 ahead, O'Sullivan stole the 10th frame on the black with a break of 56 after Henry's initial 54.

He rattled off the next two to edge within a frame of victory, but a superb 107 from Scot Henry - the only century of the match - delayed the inevitable until after the mid-session interval.


Half of me was away on the beach and half of me was thinking I should keep my head together
Ronnie O'Sullivan

But the number one seed wasted little time in polishing off his opponent on the resumption, taking the 15th frame 103-32.

In doing so he avoided the ignominy suffered by past champions Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and John Parrott, who all lost in the first round the year after triumphing for the first time in Sheffield.

"Before the interval I wasn't really interested," O'Sullivan said afterwards. "I was more interested in what I was planning to do after the championship was over.

"Half of me was away on the beach and half of me was thinking I should keep my head together.

"That's the sort of frame of mind I am in at the moment. I'm too relaxed and not too bothered.

"But I really want to get bothered, That was the difference for me last year, because I was.

Joe Swail
Swail leads Perry 5-4 after the first session

"But I switched on after the interval and played my match snooker, and I have to keep that frame of mind if I want to go further."

O'Sullivan was made to work hard by the world number 18 in the early stages of the match.

Henry lost the first frame but then moved ahead 2-1 with a run which featured a break of 58, and levellled the match at 3-3.

But breaks of 94 and 91 saw O'Sullivan build up a 5-3 lead and he also took the final frame of the session.

His form coming into the tournament has been relatively poor, with his only major win this season coming at December's UK Championship.


I'd rather do well in the bigger events and sacrifice the others
Ronnie O'Sullivan

"I wasn't practicing," he told BBC Sport Online. "I was playing well up to the UK, then after that championship I just didn't pick up my cue up for a while.

"I was just going to tournament after tournament and I didn't want to play. I couldn't be bothered playing at clubs or in my house. I was just concentrating on other things.

"But I knew this tournament was coming up and had to really knuckle down. To be at the top of your sport you have to practice.

"But to be fair to myself, I'd rather do well in the bigger events and sacrifice the others."

Swail in front

In the other evening match at the Crucible Theatre, Joe Perry recorded two century breaks but still trailed Joe Swail 5-4 at the end of their first session.

Swail took the opening frame before number 23 seed Perry went 2-1 ahead, but the Ulsterman took the next 83-29 to leave them tied at the interval.

The number ten seed edged ahead at 3-2 before a superb 134 clearance from Perry - the second highest of the tournament so far - again brought the Englishman level.

But Swail took the next two before Perry fired off another century in the final frame.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Champion Ronnie O'Sullivan
"I think I can raise my game"
Scotland's Drew Henry
"You've got to take your chances"
Links to more World Champs 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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