RONNIE O’SULLIVAN won his 11th successive match at the Crucible as he booked his place in the second round of the Dafabet World Championship at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield on Saturday night.
O’Sullivan, who has won the last two world titles, defeated Finland’s Robin Hull 10-4 in the first round, having resumed leading 7-2.
He said: “I’m just pleased to have got through. It was a tough match and I knew I’d have to play decent to win because Robin’s a good scorer. I knew I had to be on my game, which was good in a way.
“7-2 is a big lead to have so it’s hard to get up for it because you know you just need three frames, and I knew I was playing OK. So I just had to stay calm and relaxed and I knew I’d get some sort of chance.
“I’m here to do a job and I’ll go about it as professionally as I can. That’s the first match out of the way.”
The Rocket won a close first frame before making his 132nd Crucible century with a 124 total clearance in the second. O’Sullivan then piled on the misery for the Finn with a run of 69 from Hull’s missed pink in the third.
Hull, making his second Crucible appearance 12 years after his first, having survived four qualifying rounds in Sheffield last week, took advantage in the fourth when O’Sullivan failed to successfully execute a plant. Hull made a run of 102, his first ever Crucible century, to get on the scoreboard and was in control of the scrappy fifth, only for O’Sullivan to lay the snooker he needed on the green before later clearing for 4-1.
An 81 in the sixth made it 5-1 before Hull, helped by an early 60, secured the seventh. O’Sullivan, though, was too strong overall and eased to a 7-2 halfway advantage with further efforts of 60 and 90.
O’Sullivan failed to fire in the evening session and Hull took the match to an interval but was ultimately left with too much to do. A run of 54 in frame 14 was sufficient for O’Sullivan to complete his 54th win from 70 Crucible matches.
He was later asked whether Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White should be given wildcards to continue their professional careers.
“I think it’s good,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s good for me because I’ll be in that position at some point, so for selfish reasons it’s good. I wouldn’t want to go through the Q School. Steve, Jimmy White and Stephen Hendry have been great ambassadors for the game and I believe they should have that opportunity to compete if they want. Wherever we go with the game, to have them part of it is a plus. For me, I don’t see why they shouldn’t get it. It would be a crazy decision not to have them there.”
In the night’s other match, twice World Championship runner-up Ali Carter led Xiao Guodong 4-1 but ended the evening only 5-4 ahead.
Xiao, a Crucible debutant, won the eighth frame to make it 4-4 after Carter went in-off the final black.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.