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.
Stay tuned for a full second round preview later on Thursday.
Categories: Snooker News