Ronnie O’Sullivan and Matthew Stevens set up an intriguing second round clash after easily coming through their first World Championship tests on Wednesday.
The pair last met at the Crucible in 2012, when O’Sullivan beat the Welshman in the last four en route to his fourth world crown.
On that occasion the ‘Rocket’ comfortably outscored Stevens but judging by their last 32 displays it could be an all-round tighter affair this time.
O’Sullivan coasted to a 10-3 victory over fellow Englishman Craig Steadman despite never approaching anywhere near his best game.
Debutant Steadman struggled amidst the unique setting of the Crucible Theatre, missing a succession of good chances to repeatedly gift the five-time champion frame after frame.
O’Sullivan mopped up well enough but he will have to be careful not to leave as many opportunities in his future matches if he is join legends Steve Davis and Ray Reardon on six titles.
One piece of good news for Ronnie fans, though, was his temperament, which seemed in a lot better shape compared to some of his previous outings earlier in the year.
Stevens, meanwhile, was superb in his 10-2 defeat of countryman Mark Williams.
This was predicted to be a close encounter, and many had the latter as the winner given his form of late, but Stevens scored very heavily throughout to enact a modicum of revenge for his loss to Williams in the final 15 years ago.
Elsewhere, former semi-finalist Joe Perry survived a mini scare to prevail against China’s Zhang Anda 10-4.
Players Championship winner Perry had raced into a seemingly unassailable 8-1 lead after the opening session but Zhang responded with three quick frames at the outset of the evening’s play – including a superb 132 – to reduce the gap to four.
It could have been even better as the Chinese was in control of the subsequent frame as well until Perry eventually nicked it on the black to quell any fears of a miraculous comeback.
The final two first round encounters also got under way, with Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy both boasting 7-2 advantages over Stuart Carrington and Robin Hull respectively.
Those ties are completed on Thursday.
The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.
I’d love to know what other fans think of BBC’s new “innovation”, what I call the “overheating thermometer”. It appears to TRY to show how many a player requires to score before his opponent needs snookers. It was used on the first day and then, as far as I know (but I do watch a LOT) not again till Trump’s game last night, the 5th day of the championships. Is there any real need for it? I reckon that if you have the brains to understand it, you can probably work out the situation yourself. I think it actually shows how bad it makes my blood boil to have it on the side of the picture. Get rid (for good this time)!!!!
This was written about it on Saturday, Pete. https://snookerhq.com//2015/04/19/its-there-wheres-the-screen-going/
Well ok, but do we know why it disappeared for 4 days, then re-appeared last night? I just thought that the BBC had seen that it was not required.
I don’t know. I heard it was IMG who wanted it used. I thought that maybe the BBC pulled it because there were so many complaints but would work on a solution to make the aesthetics better. But obviously not.
Really? I just don’t think it is necessary. The old “42 ahead, 43 on the table” type of info is less confusing to the mathematically challenged amongst us. If you are ok at maths anyway, it is not needed.