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World Snooker Championship 2022: Ronnie O’Sullivan beats David Gilbert

O’Sullivan won his most recent world title in 2020, 19 years after his first
Venue of events: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: April 16-May 2
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV and Red Button with non-stop coverage on BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app

World number one Ronnie O’Sullivan says a “gladiator” mentality helped him come from behind to beat David Gilbert 10-5 at the World Championship.

The Rocket is aiming for a record-tying seventh Crucible crown and turned the match around 3-0 with high breaks of 122, 109 and 104.

O’Sullivan, 46, will face either Mark Allen or Scott Donaldson in the second round.

Wales’ Mark Williams leads fellow amateur Michael White 7-2 in his quest for a fourth world title.

Williams was in brilliant form, making three centuries and more breaks of 90 and 71 and they played to the last on Monday afternoon.

O’Sullivan aiming for more records

Along with such illustrious names as Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis, O’Sullivan is widely regarded as one of the greatest pool players of all time.

Now the English bet on knocking down milestones that would put him in front on his own.

He appears at the Crucible Theater for the 30th time, equaling Davis’s record, and his triumph over Gilbert takes him to 70 wins at the venue, tying alongside Hendry.

A relaxed O’Sullivan was in good spirits at media day on the eve of the tournament, saying he “won’t turn down” the chance to win a seventh world title to draw with old adversary Hendry.

To go along with his undoubted talent, a more relaxed approach from O’Sullivan makes him an even more dangerous proposition, as he might previously have withered by falling behind.

Gilbert’s quick start saw him take a 3-0 lead, but O’Sullivan kept his composure as he won six frames in a row to take control.

Gilbert took the first two frames of the second session, but a failed yellow turned the momentum on O’Sullivan’s way as he claimed three in a row for victory.

Said O’Sullivan: “I’m playing, enjoying it and trying to compete. It’s like Gladiator, Russell Crowe has a hole in his arm and he knows he’s going to die, but you just have to find a way. That’s what winners do and the Gladiators.

“I was probably not born to play snooker, but I was born to do something with a ball. I wish it had been another sport where my temperament would have adapted. I find snooker challenging.”

“To be the best at something takes input, time and effort, sometimes you wonder ‘why am I doing this?’

“I was never born a winner, but they had to instill it in me. A bit like Serena Williams and Tiger Woods, I had that kind of father figure where they told me ‘you’re going to be successful.’ They led that way.”

Gilbert added: “He scores so well, it looks like his head is screwed up and he has a great chance.”

Elsewhere…

2005 champion Shaun Murphy became the biggest name to come out thus far, beaten 10-8 by Scotsman Stephen Maguire.

England’s Murphy fell 6-2 behind and recovered to lead 8-7, with a prolonged 14-game draw taking 71 minutes, but qualifier Maguire emerged victorious with three in a row.

UK champion Zhao Xintong set the scoreboard by completing a 10-2 demolition of Jamie Clarke of Wales. The Chinese player recorded his first win at the World Championship in impressive fashion, racking up two centuries and five breaks of 70+.

Another Welshman, 20-year-old Jackson Page stunned former finalist and world number nine Barry Hawkins on his Crucible debut, scoring an impressive 10-7 victory.

Page, ranked 90th in the world, showed little nerve and closed out the match with consecutive centuries.

He said: “I’m here to win it, I just have to keep doing what I’m doing and if I do, I’ll have a chance.”

Scotsman Anthony McGill, a semi-finalist two years ago, leads England’s Liam Highfield 6-3 heading into the conclusion on Monday morning.

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