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Ronnie O’Sullivan v Rod Lawler live stream | Welsh Open 2023 preview

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O’Sullivan takes on Lawler in Llandudno (PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

Ronnie O’Sullivan will hope for much smoother progress when he locks horns with Rod Lawler in the Welsh Open last 32 on Wednesday.

The Rocket is targeting a record-equalling fifth Welsh Open crown at Venue Cymru in Llandudno this week, which would move him level with John Higgins.

His latest mission to do so has certainly been an indifferent one thus far. After opening with a commanding 4-0 win over Oliver Lines, the world number one was taken all the way by Ross Muir in the second round.

The latter was an eventful encounter with the seven-time World champion twice seeing his tip fall off, while he appeared to lose his cool when violating the three-miss rule to ultimately force a deciding frame.

But with that behind him, O’Sullivan will now seek a fourth victory in as many meetings with Lawler – with the previous three also coming in the last 32 of the respective tournaments.

Ironically, the most recent of these – a 4-2 victory at the 2015 World Grand Prix – was also played at this venue.

Veteran Lawler, who was a quarter-finalist at this tournament 20 years ago, regained his place on the tour via Q School at the start of the season.

But he arrived for last month’s qualifiers having won just three matches with one of those coming in the Championship League, while he had never advanced beyond the last 64 of any Home Nations event.

Nevertheless, the 51-year-old overcame Jamie Jones to secure his place in the main draw, where he denied another Welshman in the last round after scraping past former UK and Masters champion Matthew Stevens 4-3.

The winner of this match will play either David Gilbert or Ben Mertens in the last 16 of this year’s Welsh Open.

Play gets underway at 7pm GMT on Wednesday and will be contested over the best of seven frames at Venue Cymru in Llandudno.