Ronnie O’Sullivan completed his comeback from 3-0 down to defeat David Gilbert 10-5 at the World Snooker Championship, but another former champion, Shaun Murphy, was edged out 10-8 by Stephen Maguire.
From 8-7 up, Murphy missed a straightforward red into a middle pocket and then failed to pot a ball until Maguire had built a decent lead in frame 18. The Scot did give up a couple of openings but Murphy, by now needing a snooker, rattled the final red in the jaws allowing Maguire to pot it and then leave a snooker. When the Englishman’s escape left the yellow over a pocket, it was all over.
O’Sullivan, the world No 1, is hunting a record-equalling seventh title and will now face Mark Allen or Scott Donaldson in the second round.
O’Sullivan reeled off six consecutive frames to take control after Gilbert had raced into a 3-0 lead at the Crucible on Saturday. Gilbert won the first two frames of the second session on Sunday before O’Sullivan eased over the line.
O’Sullivan told the BBC: “I am out there playing, enjoying it and just trying to compete. It is like Gladiator. Russell Crowe has a hole in his arm and knows he is going to die but you just have to find a way. That is what winners and gladiators do.
“I probably wasn’t born to play snooker but I was born to do something with a ball. I just wish it would have been another sport where my temperament would have been suited to it. I find snooker challenging.
“To be the best at something it takes graft, time and effort. Sometimes you ask yourself: ‘Why am I doing this?’
“I was never born a winner, but I had to have it drummed into me. A bit like Serena Williams and Tiger Woods, I had that type of father figure where I was told: ‘You are going to be a success.’ I wasn’t that bothered but I was toughened up mentally. I was mentored that way.”
Barry Hawkins suffered a 7-10 defeat to the debutant Jackson Page, who quickly moved into a 3-0 lead, hit a break of 128 to help him move 9-7 clear in a decisive moment and sealed the game in the next frame.
Mark Williams led Michael White 7-1, Anthony McGill held a 6-3 lead over Liam Highfield and Zhao Xintong beat Jamie Clarke 10-2.