Stephen Maguire outplayed Ronnie O’Sullivan in an enthralling first session of their opening round clash at the Betfred World Championship to establish a 6-3 advantage.
The Rocket is enjoying his most fruitful season on the World Snooker Tour, having won five ranking titles in a single campaign for the first time in his career. He will have come into this afternoon’s clash with Maguire full of confidence, holding a 17-4 lead in their head-to-head record.
That disparity wasn’t reflected in the early exchanges today which saw Maguire, who is competing at the Crucible for the 15th consecutive season, storm to a 4-0 lead at the mid-session. The 2004 UK Champion compiled breaks of 101 and 95 as he asserted himself upon proceedings.
When they returned O’Sullivan fired in back-to-back century breaks of 118 and 110 to pull within one at 4-3. Maguire then took a scrappy 30-minute eighth frame where both players spurned opportunities.
That could prove to be a pivotal moment, as the tenacious Scot compounded his advantage with a break of 84 to restore a three-frame gap overnight. The match will be played to a conclusion tomorrow morning at 10am.
Kyren Wilson is on the verge of a spot in round two after a dominant performance saw him open up a 7-2 lead against two-time Crucible finalist Matthew Stevens.
The Warrior reached the quarter-final stage in 2016 and 2017 and he will be hoping to go at least a step further and make the one-table setup for a first time this year. Wilson qualified for his maiden Triple Crown final earlier this year at the Masters, although he did lose out in a 10-7 defeat against Mark Allen.
Stevens is playing at the Crucible for the first time since 2015. However, his hopes of a run were dashed by a late blitz by Wilson this afternoon. From 4-2, the 2015 Shanghai Masters champion compiled runs of 94, 65 and 126 to move three frames from victory at 7-2. They will resume tomorrow evening at 7pm.