Preview: Day-1 World Snooker Championship
Reigning champion Mark Selby made a successful start to his World Championship title with a comprehensive 10-2 victory over Fergal O’Brien at The Crucible on Saturday, while Stephen Maguire also enjoyed a surprisingly comfortable win against a below-par Anthony McGill by the same scoreline.
Although not at his clinical best, Selby was in total control against O’Brien, whose return to Sheffield after a seven-year absence was a very brief one.
Selby stamped his authority on the contest in the opening session - making breaks of 50, 63, 77 and 58 on the way to opening up a commanding 8-0 advantage - although his opponent did stop the rot by winning the ninth frame to avert what would have been only the second whitewash in Crucible history.
The Jester returned with purpose in the evening and a quickfire break of 92 moved him to the brink of victory which, despite O’Brien taking frame 11 on the pink, he secured on the black in the next to advance.
He is joined in round two by Stephen Maguire who, appearing as a qualifier for the first time since 2005, as he defeated fellow Scotsman McGill 10-2.
After the first four frames were shared, the 2007 semi-finalist went into overdrive with runs of 97, 60, 50 and 59 helping him to a 7-2 lead at the end of the first session.
Maguire was just as ruthless when play resumed with further breaks of 57 and 58 sealing the deal against the world number 15, who became the first seed to bow out of this year’s tournament after struggling to produce the performance levels that have seen him rise into the elite bracket this season.
Meanwhile, Ronnie O’Sullivan holds a narrow 5-4 overnight lead against debutant Gary Wilson, who recovered from 5-1 down to leave the match finely poised.
After taking a lengthy opening frame, the Rocket appeared to be firing with breaks of 63 and 58 on the way to 3-0, but Wilson responded with 54 to claim his first frame at the Theatre of Dreams before the interval.
O’Sullivan then made the first century of this year’s event with a magnificent break of 122, before snatching the sixth frame on a re-spotted black after his opponent was unfortunate to go in-off at the snookers required stage.
However, Newcastle’s Gary Wilson showed good spirit with runs of 63 and 64 and, after the five-time World champion had been in first with 63, produced a neat clearance to snatch the final frame of the day on the black to only trail by one.
Fellow first-timer David Grace is also within just a single frame of Kyren Wilson following their opening session.
The world number 14, who is appearing as a seed for the first time this year, took the first frame on the black and won two of the next three for a 3-1 lead.
Leeds’ Grace responded well with breaks of 75 and 56 sandwiching two frames in Wilson’s favour, before controlling the final one of the opening session to remain very much alive ahead of Sunday’s conclusion.