Ronnie O’Sullivan holds a slender 5-4 advantage following a Gary Wilson fightback in the opening round of the Betfred World Championship.
The Rocket comes into this season’s showpiece event off the back of a mixed campaign. He appeared in finals at the European Masters, Champion of Champions and UK Championship, but was runner-up on each occasion. He made history at the Masters in January where he lifted the title for a record seventh time after defeating Joe Perry 10-7 in the final.
Former China Open finalist Wilson is making his Crucible debut, but is full of confidence after a strong showing in the qualifiers, which included the second 147 break of his career.
The match had looked as if it could become a one sided affair in the early stages with O’Sullivan imposing his authority. The Rocket flew to a 4-1 advantage courtesy of breaks of 57, 58, 58, 63 and 122. O’Sullivan needed a snooker on the final red to tie the sixth frame. He got it and converted the respot to open up a 5-1 lead.
Wilson showed great resilience to keep himself in the match. Runs of 62 and 63 helped him to reduce the deficit to 5-3 and there was then a dramatic last frame of the session. The world number 59 required a snooker in the final frame. He extracted a foul from O’Sullivan on the green and got the remaining colours to take his third frame in a row and trail by just 5-4.
Kyren Wilson is also ahead by a 5-4 scoreline in his opening round tie with Yorkshire’s David Grace.
The Warrior took the first two frames, before Grace pegged him back to 2-1. He re-established his advantage in the fourth thanks to a run of 72. However, Grace made a break of 75 to make it 3-2.
Wilson won the following two frames, but the Yorkshireman hit back once more. He claimed the final two frames to trail by just one frame going into the concluding session.
Both best of 19 ties will be played to a conclusion tomorrow.