Former Champions Continue Crucible Run

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams both booked their places in the last 16 of the 2016 Betfred World Championship after contrasting opening round victories.

Ronnie O'Sullivan 147 UK
There was no smiling in the media room after this victory, with tantrums even reportedly heard from Ronnie’s dressing room – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

O’Sullivan played very well throughout his encounter with fellow Englishman Dave Gilbert but came up against an opponent who refused to wilt at the challenge.

Pot success for the pair remained in the mid-90 percentile for the majority of the contest as the duo traded sizable breaks in an entertaining affair.

But Gilbert was left to rue not being able to keep the tie closer – he trailed 6-3 – going into the second session as he was never really able to get back on even terms.

O’Sullivan, for the majority of the encounter, was well disciplined with his shot selection, refusing to push the boat out but inflicting typically cool clearances at punishing junctures.

It was somewhat of a surprise then when the ‘Rocket’ sped past TV cameras and journalists upon the conclusion of the match and into his dressing room, as he refused to perform the obligatory media obligations.

It’s not really evident what is to be made of this so far but it again sent the 40 year-old into the spotlight amid controversial circumstances.

Whether his mood and temperament will have an affect on his future displays remains to be seen but, simply theorising from the evidence that he demonstrated on the table during his match, O’Sullivan seems to be in good enough form to win this year’s title.

Two-time champion Williams, meanwhile, hammered 2006 winner Graeme Dott 10-4 in a mostly one-sided battle of the former Crucible kings.

Welshman Williams scored heavily with a ton and seven further breaks above 50 and will be a danger to any player who he meets.

However, the 41 year-old is in the toughest quarter of the draw with a potential second round clash against Neil Robertson before a meeting with one of Judd Trump, Liang Wenbo, Martin Gould or Ding Junhui.

There were two other results on the third day of action.

Ricky Walden won five out of the last six frames to deny Robbie Williams his maiden World Championship victory, eventually powering over the winning line 10-8.

Walden, runner-up in each of the last two ranking events this campaign, started poorly and it looked as though he was heading for an early exit before he suddenly discovered his potting boots in the nick of time.

Former quarter-finalist Michael White wasn’t so fortunate to escape, though, as he lost the last four frames in a 10-7 defeat to qualifier Sam Baird.

Baird, who by reaching the last 16 now equals his best performance in a ranking event, lost 10-2 on his debut three years ago but knocked in a brace of centuries this time around to secure a memorable win.

Elsewhere, Mark Selby and John Higgins both got their campaigns under way in strong style.

Selby, who is returning after several weeks away from the sport due to personal reasons, was understandably rusty early on against Robert Milkins but compiled five consecutive breaks above 50, including an excellent 132, to establish a 7-2 overnight advantage.

Four-time champion Higgins looked even better, with three tons and other runs of 79 and 77 helping the Scot to a 7-2 lead over Ryan Day.

Click here to view the draw.


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