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Rocket Storms Past Steadman

Ronnie O'Sullivan

O’Sullivan has now won 20 out of 23 first round matches at the Crucible

Ronnie O’Sullivan completed an emphatic 10-3 victory over Craig Steadman in the first round of the Betfred World Championship, and insisted he is hungry for a sixth Crucible crown.

Pre-tournament 2/1 favourite with Betfred, O’Sullivan looked in control throughout his opening tie with Sheffield debutant Steadman as he cruised through to a last 16 meeting with Matthew Stevens or Mark Williams.

Chigwell’s O’Sullivan has five world titles to his name – including two in the past three years – and one more would see him match Steve Davis on six and move within one of Stephen Hendry’s record of seven. He has already won the Champion of Champions and UK Championship this season, though the Rocket has not added to his trophy hail since December.

The 39-year-old lead Farnworth’s Steadman 7-2 after the first session yesterday, making top breaks of 104, 61, 59, 54 and 75. And O’Sullivan added the three frames he needed today with a top run of 54.

“I got off to a good start and apart from a few misses I’m pleased, you can’t pot everything so I was more pleased with how I just regrouped and got going again,” said O’Sullivan.

“I am hungry to win a sixth title because I am a hungry person, and I think that’s why I’ve been so successful over the years. I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t win it. I’ve won five Worlds, five UKs and five Masters and I’m still here. I don’t know how many more times I’ll be playing here so I just want to enjoy every match.”

During the sixth frame yesterday, O’Sullivan took off his shoes and played in his socks, before going backstage to borrow a pair of shoes from tournament director Mike Ganley.

“I bought some new shoes before the tournament and it was a bad, bad move,” said O’Sullivan. “When I was buying them I thought ‘these don’t look right’ but I’m not into fashion so I bought them anyway.

If there’s a top shoe maker out there that wants to sort me out with a nice pair, send your boys down. I’ve got these old battered things on at the minute that I’ve had for about ten years, so I’d appreciate a new pair.

“When I put Mike’s shoes on and they had this big instep in them, but actually they were so comfortable, they were like heaven. Thanks to Mike because I was desperate, I was even asking people in the crowd if they could lend me some size eights.”

Steadman added: “I think I played alright yesterday, I missed a couple of balls which was understandable. I felt a little bit hard done by being 7-2 down, I could have been more in it than that really.

“But I enjoyed coming out today. The Crucible is fantastic, I loved it playing out there for the first time. I didn’t really feel too nervous yesterday but today I didn’t really settle down and I didn’t feel comfortable, but maybe that was something to do with being a bit despondent with the score line.

“Hand on my heart I didn’t even notice when he took his shoes off. It sounds stupid because he was sat right next to me, but I didn’t know until the referee told him to put them back on. I said to him you can use one of mine if you want, we can use one each.”

In this morning’s other match, world number nine Joe Perry put on a fine display against China’s Zhang Anda, dropping only one frame to lead 8-1 (Thomas McGovern writes).

Perry, the 2008 semi-finalist, raced into a 4-0 lead then got the better of a 50-minute fifth frame to extend his lead. Players Championship winner Perry added the next two to lead 7-0, raising the possibility of only the second ever Crucible whitewash.

But Zhang, the world number 98, finally notched his first frame by knocking in a break of 80. Perry had the last say in the session, finishing with a break of 87 to complete a fine morning. They resume tonight at 7pm

Joe Perry

Perry has been in the best form of his career this season