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Record-equalling Ronnie O’Sullivan reaches World Championship Second Round

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Ronnie O’Sullivan reacts to win over David Gilbert: “It’s like Gladiator – you just have to find a way to win”

The Rocket returns to The Crucible (PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo)

Ronnie O’Sullivan claimed his record-equalling 70th victory at the Crucible after seeing off David Gilbert 10-5 on Sunday.

The Rocket moved level with Stephen Hendry as he booked his place in the second round of this year’s World Championship.

The six-time World champion also maintained his perfect record against Gilbert, who he has beaten in all eight meetings between the players.

Through to the second round for the 26th time in 30 Crucible appearances, O’Sullivan will play either Mark Allen or Scott Donaldson.

The world number one reeled off six successive frames from 3-0 down in the opening session on Saturday to take command against the 2019 semi-finalist.

However, he was unable to convert opportunities in the opening two frames of the second session; breaking down on 58 and 45 respectively.

Gilbert pounced with clearances of 63 and 82 to cut the gap to a single frame, but missed a red to the left centre in the next and O’Sullivan regained control with 109.

The Rocket fluked the yellow on the way to taking the next, while a top run of 81 helped him seal the deal.

“I’ve got myself in a great position now because I had to, whether I win or lose,” O’Sullivan told BBC Sport.

“If I lost today I’d have been disappointed because I’m actually enjoying playing out there, but I could have took a defeat and got over it. Been in the punditry box and been okay with it.

“I’m in a great place, life’s great. I think I can go on playing a lot longer than I thought I could. I don’t think I’m playing as well as when I was winning most of the stuff I played in, but I don’t have to be.

“If I can be around, be a hindrance, a lot of these guys who are past their best, still a pain to deal with sometimes.”

Earlier in the day, Zhao Xintong wasted no time in wrapping up a comprehensive 10-2 rout of Welsh qualifier Jamie Clarke.

Leading 7-2, the reigning UK Championship and German Masters winner quickly reeled off breaks of 88 and 82 to complete the job.

Elsewhere, three-time World champion Mark Williams fired in three centuries – plus breaks of 90 and 71 – on the way to establishing a commanding 7-2 lead over compatriot Michael White, while Anthony McGill moved 6-3 ahead against Liam Highfield at the halfway stage of their contest.