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O’Sullivan and Higgins complete World Championship last-16 line-up

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O’Sullivan wasted little time in sealing victory over Page (PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

Ronnie O’Sullivan soared into the World Championship second round, while John Higgins completed the last-16 line-up on Thursday.

The multiple Crucible kings – boasting 11 titles between them – were the final two players to avoid the carnage of the opening round in Sheffield, where a record-equalling eight seeds have already fallen.

Seven-time champion O’Sullivan wasted little time in wrapping up a dominant 10-1 victory over Jackson Page.

The Rocket, who was 8-1 to the good overnight, hit a break of 79 on the way to securing his 28th appearance in the last 16.

“Jackson’s a great player. I knew I had to be on my game, he’s probably one of the hardest first-round draws I could have got,” O’Sullivan told BBC Sport. “I’m pleased with my performance.

“I’ve played terrible for two years. I know I’ve won, but that’s what I do. I know how to win; that’s something I’ve been blessed with and you never lose that. You can play terrible and win, you just have to have the mindset of a winner, which I have. I haven’t really cued smoothly, which has been frustrating.

“I know the ability’s there; it’s just about finding the right formulas. I’ve already broken the rules as far as snooker’s concerned – I’m still going at 48 – so I’m just seeing what’s possible now. Can I win a World Championship at 50? Who knows? But I’m probably the only player able to do that, so let’s have an experiment.

“I’ve had the greatest career of any snooker player. How many people can say they’ve been the best or most successful at their job ever? I have to give myself a pat on the back because I don’t, I’m always pretty hard on myself. But the reality is no-one’s achieved what I have on the table statistically.”

Higgins joined him after sealing a 10-6 victory over Jamie Jones that maintains his place in the world’s top 16.

Using a brand new cue for the tournament, the four-time winner had recovered from 3-1 down on Wednesday to lead 5-4 overnight, and won four of the opening five frames to go 9-5 up.

Jones, who reached the 2012 quarter-finals, took the next to keep his faint hopes alive, but Higgins was not to be denied a showdown with Mark Allen on his 26th appearance in round two.

“It was a good win for me. I thought I hit the ball well tonight,” he told Eurosport.

“I think he still fancied winning – even at 9-5 and 9-6 down. He’s got that way about him at the table. It puts you on the back foot a little bit; he was playing the right shots and probably still felt he had a chance.

“My only focus was on winning that first-round game and getting through to have a crack at Mark.

“It’ll be good to go and pit my wits against him. In the last couple of years, he’s put the work and the graft in, and he’s got his rewards with all the titles he’s won. This is the big one that he wants, and this is what’s driving him on.”

Elsewhere, the second round commenced with Judd Trump opening a commanding 6-2 lead over Tom Ford.

The latter was making his first appearance in the last 16, and produced a superb clearance from brown to black to take the opening frame.

Trump hit a top break of 67 as he won the next two, but a run of 50 saw Ford level at the interval.

However, the momentum of the session turned in frame five, when the Leicester cueist missed a routine red at 63-0 up, and his opponent recovered to snatch it on the black.

The world number two then dominated the next three frames, making contributions of 52 and 69 while dropping just 20 points as he established a healthy overnight advantage.

David Gilbert had runs of 81, 59 and 50 as he took a 5-3 lead over Robert Milkins.

Although, the 2019 semi-finalist saw an opportunity to go 6-2 ahead go begging after running out of position on 64, with the Milkman producing a wonderful 48 clearance to snatch the final frame of their opening session on the black.


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World Snooker Championship 2024 | Day Six Scores

*Indicates result

Thursday April 25

Round One (unless stated)

Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-1 Jackson Page*
David Gilbert 5-3 Robert Milkins (R2)
John Higgins 10-6 Jamie Jones*
Judd Trump 6-2 Tom Ford (R2)