Betfred TV’s Mark Pearson
Rocket Ronnie O’Sullivan stole the show on Easter Sunday with an ‘egg-cellent’ first-round win at the Betfred World Snooker Championship.
The world No. 1 is up-and-running, and will take some stopping at snooker’s annual 17-day marathon at the iconic Crucible Theatre.
Ronnie was a happy bunny after his 10-5 first-round victory over Dave Gilbert.
The Rocket has been in great form since arriving in Sheffield on Friday for the press launch for this year’s blockbuster event. You never know what you’re going to get, but he’s relaxed, focused and I wouldn’t bet against him being a dangerous force over the next couple of weeks.
And that showed on the baize as he treated the packed Crucible crowd to three centuries on his way to booking his spot in the last 16.
As always we are donating £200 for every century break to the fabulous Jessie May charity. Keep knocking in those tons, Ron!
It’s a massive year for Ronnie here. He plays down matching Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles, but he really fancies the job this year.
Can Gladiator Ron go all the way?
After his first-round victory he said: “Everyone’s talking about the seventh and Hendry’s record. But Hendry was a hero of mine, and I would actually quite like him to keep one of his records.
“It’s like Gladiator out there. It’s like Russell Crowe; he’s got a hole in his arm, he knows he’s going to die but you just have to find a way. You find a way, that’s what winners and gladiators do.
“It’s like I’ve gathered this tool box over years. I’ve pulled out spanners, hammers, allen keys and everything. When you’re an old grandad like me you draw on your experiences you’ve learned.
“You’ve got to try not to panic, that’s the hardest thing. I’ve played terrible in this tournament and I’ve won it so I won’t sit there and think I can’t win it if I’m not playing well.”
If there’s one man who could challenge Ronnie for entertainment this year it’s Chinese young gun Zhao Xintong.
The cool UK champion looked like James Bond at the media day with a white tuxedo jacket. Ronnie thinks he could be snooker’s next biggest star and he wrapped up a convincing 10-2 victory over Jamie Clarke.
Meanwhile, there was some late-night drama inside this Theatre of Dreams.
Stephen Maguire edged Shaun Murphy 10-8 in an epic Crucible clash. There were thrills and spills galore. It had everything; dramatic flukes, bad misses, a marathon 71-minute frame which went to the black.
You could cut the tension with a knife and that’s why we love this game so much!
Maguire was absolutely spent after a seven-hour battle.
“I’m absolutely shattered, I’ll tell you that,” admitted the two-time semi-finalist.
So were we, Stevie. So were we…
World Snooker odds, from Betfred