Steve August 2, 2020

Ronnie O’Sullivan cruised into 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 shot as he made seven breaks over 50, including two centuries.

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

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

Australia’s 2010 world champion Robertson produced an accomplished display in a 10-5 win over China’s Liang Wenbo, while Scotland’s four-time champion John Higgins eased to a 10-5 win over Wales’ Matthew Stevens.

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

Qualifier Maflin was warned for making an obscene gesture towards the table in the 16th frame of his 10-8 win over the Englishman, after his hopes of making maximum break ended as he ran out of position on the penultimate red.

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

“I meant nothing by it. It was purely aggression being taken out on the cue ball.

“I thought the referee was telling me to tuck my shirt in. It doesn’t look great but I managed to get it out of my mind because I thought nobody could surely take it that seriously.”

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

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

Earlier on Sunday, China’s Yan Bingtao raced to a 7-1 lead over English debutant Elliot Slessor in a match that will be concluded on 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 in convincing fashion.

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

Un-Nooh, who potted just a single ball in the first three frames, won the seventh frame but was guilty of some costly misses.

Until he finally got on the board, it had looked increasingly likely he would become only the third player – after Eddie Charlton and Luo Honghao – to suffer a Crucible whitewash.


John Parrott, the 1991 world champion

It was a demolition. Ronnie O’Sullivan was sublime all the way through. There will be stiffer opposition but if he maintains this form he will take a lot of stopping.

The lack of razzmatazz around the place is probably going to suit him, even just getting into the venue.

He is the biggest draw in the sport but there are no crowds outside and it is a lot less aggravation for him.

When you see him play that well you think there must be other factors in why he has not reached the final recently.

from the BBC

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