Ronnie O’Sullivan began his defence of the Masters with a 6-4 victory over Ricky Walden on Wednesday in London.
The ‘Rocket’ compiled two tons and in doing so equaled Stephen Hendry’s centuries record of 775.
It always seemed fitting that the 39 year-old Chigwell cueist would surpass Hendry in a tournament in which he has featured in so many memorable matches down through the years and it looks as though that eventuality will materialise in front of his legion of local fans.
O’Sullivan faces Hong Kong’s Marco Fu in the quarter-finals and, just as the press focused in on Neil Robertson’s quest for a century of centuries in a single season at last season’s World Championship, a media frenzy is expected once again at the Alexandra Palace on Thursday.
Praise shall duly be lavished on the world no.3 if and when that actually happens but for now the record stands and there’s nothing to really write home about – despite the wave of articles currently circulating the web.
O’Sullivan wasn’t at his best against Walden, who put up a better fight than in their one-sided last eight bout in 2014, and was nearly pegged back to a decider when he lost two close frames from 5-2 in front.
However, his 775th career century gratefully came in the 10th frame with a 116 seeing him through to the next round.
The win means that O’Sullivan has now won 27 out of his last 28 encounters on British soil – with his sole defeat coming in the Crucible final when he let a big lead slip versus Mark Selby.
The fact is that O’Sullivan’s B, or even C, game is often enough to overcome the majority of the opposition and it is difficult to see where this run of form on home soil comes to an end.
In the evening session clash, Ali Carter compiled breaks of 130, 95 and 50 en route a brilliant 6-1 triumph over Barry Hawkins.
The ‘Captain’ received a standing ovation from the packed auditorium upon his entrance, with the crowd showing their appreciation for Carter’s winning battle with lung cancer last year.
Carter’s victory will surely feel like a certain amount of vindication for all the struggle he has endured against adversity of late.
Today, the final two matches of the last 16 are contested with John Higgins taking on Mark Allen in the afternoon before Joe Perry challenges Ding Junhui.
Former champion Ding has had a quiet season subsequent to his stellar campaign of 2013/14 so will be hoping to get 2015 off to a good start by reclaiming the prestigious title he won four years ago.
The 27 year-old will undoubtedly start as the favourite against Perry but the latter, at 40 years of age and having been in or around the top 16 in the world for such a long period, is unlikely to be phased that much.
The other match represents two competitors who are arguably going in the opposite direction in terms of their respective form.
Allen was superb in the early part of the season when he reached four finals and picked up a European Tour trophy for his efforts, but he has suffered a dip in his results of late.
This is in contrast to Scotland’s Higgins, with the two-time champion producing some awful displays at the outset of the campaign before showing glimpses of his old self in York and at the Lisbon Open.
Perry and Higgins with a fighter’s chance then, although I still expect Ding and Allen to advance.