Ronnie O’Sullivan insists he will give the fans “plenty more” to get excited about as he bids to secure a record-equalling seventh World Championship title.
O’Sullivan began the defence of his Crucible crown with a routine 10-4 victory over Mark Joyce on the opening day of the sport’s blue riband event in Sheffield.
A 33 percent capacity crowd witnessed ‘The Rocket’ turn on the style with three consecutive centuries in the latter stages after a slow start to the contest.
The 45-year-old admits his performance in the first session was “disastrous” but is confident he can kick on from his strong finish when he returns to face either Anthony McGill or Ricky Walden on Thursday.
“I wouldn’t say I was relieved, I was pleased I played alright towards the end because it was disastrous up until then,” said O’Sullivan.
“It was just too much thinking, I have to remember that I can play. I’ve got to stop thinking about cue actions, it’s mental.
“I’ve got to try and build on those last four frames, if I can find some momentum then maybe I’ll get a little bit excited.
“It was really nice to have the crowd in because if there was no crowd I would have sunk even lower into my chair and thought ‘can I get out of here as quickly as I can?’
“The crowd force you to try a bit because they pay their money to come and watch, some of my best moments have been when you see the reaction of the crowd.
“You always like to keep them happy because they pay their money to have a good night out.
“They’ll get plenty more, don’t worry about that.”
O’Sullivan opened up a 6-3 lead at the halfway stage despite a high break of just 70, with Walsall debutant Joyce having made breaks of 58 and 66.
It was Joyce who took the first frame of the second session thanks to a break of 55 but he was kept in his seat for much of the next four frames as O’Sullivan began his charge to the winning line with a break of 58 in frame 11.
The Rocket registered his first century of the tournament with a vintage break of 124 and followed in with further breaks of 137 and 112 to seal victory in style.
He appeared to struggle with the chilly temperature inside the venue throughout the contest, and added: “It was really cold this morning and I thought, maybe it’s just me?
“Tonight I was cold and Mark also went “it’s freezing” as did a few people in the crowd.
“I know we’re in Covid and trying to do some cutbacks but at least have the heating on.”
Elsewhere, reigning UK Champion Neil Robertson opened up a 6-3 lead over Liang Wenbo with high breaks of 79, 108, 71 and 60.
Liang took an important final frame of the session in style with a break of 126 to add to his earlier efforts of 71 and 78.
Jamie Jones recovered from 3-0 down to establish a narrow 5-4 lead over Stephen Maguire at the halfway stage of their contest.
Jones, making his first Crucible appearance for three years, reeled off five consecutive frames to turn the match on its head despite failing to make a break of over 50, but Maguire stopped the rot in frame nine to ensure a finely-poised tie.
David Gilbert, semi-finalist in 2019, put one foot into the Second Round by racing into a 7-2 lead over Chris Wakelin with a terrific trio of centuries to his name.
Gilbert fired in breaks of 60, 132, 111, 50, 90 and 100 as he moved 7-1 ahead before Wakelin took the final frame of the session to grab a lifeline.
Yan Bingtao and Martin Gould go into their final session on Sunday locked level at four apiece.
Masters champion Yan led 2-0 with breaks of 60 and 65 before Gould reeled off three in a row to hit the front.
Yan replied with a break of 73, but Gould hit back superbly with a break of 109 before the Chinese youngster clinched frame eight to restore parity.
World Snooker Championship 2021 Results & Latest Scores
Saturday April 17
Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-4 Mark Joyce (R)
Yan Bingtao 4-4 Martin Gould (L)
Stephen Maguire 4-5 Jamie Jones (L)
Neil Robertson 6-3 Liang Wenbo (L)
David Gilbert 7-2 Chris Wakelin (L)