Ronnie O’Sullivan beat Gary Wilson 10-7 to reach the second round of the World Championship on Sunday.
However, as is so often the case with the game’s leading figure, the 41 year-old made more headlines for his off the table comments than what he did from his his efforts on the baize.
O’Sullivan was embroiled in a right tussle with debutant Wilson, who made an excellent account of himself at the Crucible, compiling a brace of centuries in an entertaining battle with the five-time champion.
The “Rocket” appeared calm and composed during the contest as he eventually overpowered his inexperienced challenger to move into the last 16 in Sheffield.
But in his post-match press conference the Englishman continued his battle with the sport’s hierarchy, in particular World Snooker supremo Barry Hearn.
The latest scuffle was sparked by an incident at the Masters in January when O’Sullivan voiced issues with both a referee and photographer live on air, but in reality the problems have been escalating for quite some time.
O’Sullivan, who since then was engaged in a media standoff for many of the tournaments, aside from doing his contractual work with Eurosport, stated that he felt bullied by the authorities.
As ever, the former world number one will divide opinion and there’ll be an equal number of fans who will feel both sympathy and indifference to his latest tirade against the regime.
Regardless, his victory means he remains on course for a sixth world title and, if anything, his external woes coupled with the fact that he isn’t the overwhelming favourite for the first time in years, may actually help him to focus even more at the table.
Meanwhile, Kyren Wilson advanced after a 10-6 victory over another Crucible first-timer in David Grace.
In what was a largely forgettable clash, Wilson benefited from his experience to hold off the challenge of the Leeds man.
The 2015 Shanghai Masters champion will need to improve, though, if he has any aspirations of challenging for global glory this year.
Elsewhere, several other ties reached the halfway point of their last 32 contests.
Peter Ebdon came back from requiring four snookers in the last frame of the session against Stuart Bingham to trail his fellow former world champion by just one overnight.
Luca Brecel, playing in the World Championship for the first time in five years, impressed in establishing a 7-2 advantage over Marco Fu.
Jimmy Robertson let slip a 4-2 cushion in losing the final three frames of the evening to trail Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen 5-4 – the latter compiling a brace of centuries in what was generally a more high scoring second day in Sheffield.
Finally, Shaun Murphy held off talented teenager Yan Bingtao to record a 6-3 lead after the conclusion of their opening exchanges.
Yan, just 17, showed glimpses of the pedigree he possesses, especially by constructing a ton in just his second World Championship frame, but in general Murphy deserved to be ahead.
All four of those matches reach their climax on Monday while John Higgins and Ding Junhui also enter the fray against Martin Gould and Zhou Yuelong respectively.
Categories: Snooker News