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World Snooker Championship 2020 Day Four preview and order of play: Seeded stars aim to avoid early exit

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Kurt Maflin denies David Gilbert as John Higgins and Neil Robertson avoid early exits at the World Championship

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Ronnie O’Sullivan “on a holiday buzz” at empty World Snooker Championship

Selby was beaten by world number 40 Highfield (Photo by PA Images)

Three former World Champions grace the green baize at the 2020 World Snooker Championship on Monday as the First Round action continues at The Crucible.

Day Three saw David Gilbert become the first, and so far only, seed to crash out at the first hurdle in Sheffield, going down 10-8 to Norway’s Kurt Maflin in an epic.

The big names have largely come through unscathed so far, and a clutch of decorated cueists will look to join them on Monday.

Ronnie O’Sullivan already has one foot in the Last 16 and aims to close out an emphatic victory over Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.

O’Sullivan stormed into an 8-1 lead following a blistering first session on Sunday which featured less than two hours of playing time between the sport’s two fastest players.

The Rocket landed two centuries in the opening three frames and now requires just two more frames to get over the line and extend Un-Nooh wait for a first win at The Crucible.

Yan Bingtao is also well on his way to the winning line and will look to secure the further three frames he requires to see off Elliot Slessor.

Yan, the number 16 seed, coasted into a 7-1 overnight lead against the Tyneside debutant – who has struggled to get to grips with the pressure cooker environment despite the absence of spectators.

The morning session sees arguably one of the most closely matched ties of the round commence as Jack Lisowski takes on Anthony McGill.

Scottish star McGill returns for his sixth successive Crucible appearance, having shrugged off a below-par season to come through the qualifying rounds last week.

The former Indian Open champion reached the Quarter-Finals on his debut here in 2015 and was a top 16 ranked player as recently as two years ago.

He dropped just two frames in his two qualifying matches en route to the main event, including a 10-1 demolition of Sam Baird, underlining his timely return to form.

He starts out against Gloucester ace Lisowski, the number 13 seed, who has won just one match at this venue in three previous appearances.

Lisowski was runner-up in last December’s Scottish Open but has offered little either side of that run, suffering exits in Round Three or earlier in every other ranking event.

McGill has the upper-hand when it comes to safety play and will look to frustrate the attacking-minded Lisowski over the two-session format.

Shaun Murphy, the 2005 champion, starts his campaign against Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham in the afternoon session.

Murphy has reached a further two Crucible finals, finishing runner-up in 2009 and 2015, and has enjoyed a fine season which has seen him claim two ranking titles.

The reigning China Championship and Welsh Open champion, however, is out to improve on a patchy recent record in Sheffield which has seen him suffer two First Round and two Second Round exits in his last four visits.

Saengkham is making only his second Crucible appearance, following on from his debut defeat to Neil Robertson in 2017 and is a two-time ranking event semi-finalist.

He made a 147 break at the 2019 Welsh Open and has experience of beating a number of established names since joining the circuit seven years ago.

The evening session sees Mark Selby begin his pursuit of a fourth world title with a clash against debutant Jordan Brown.

Selby has been the most successful player in the tournament over the past decade, claiming glory in three of his last six World Championship appearances.

The former world number one, however, has suffered First and Second round exits in his last two outings to the sport’s spiritual home but returns on the back of a fine season which has seen him claim two ranking titles.

The English Open and Scottish Open winner relishes this long-haul format and will be out to use his vast experience to deny Brown a dream debut upset.

Brown joins an elite group of Northern Irishmen to have reached this competition, having defeated Hossein Vafaei and Ryan Day with two impressive displays in the qualifying rounds.

The world number 73, a practice partner of Mark Allen, has not been beyond the Second Round of any ranking event this season and is poised for by far the biggest match of his career to date.

The action gets underway from 10am BST, with First Round matches to be contested over the best of 19 frames.

The first session of each match will consist of a maximum of nine frames, before being played to a finish in the second session.


World Snooker Championship 2020 Schedule

*Indicates final session

Monday August 3

First Round

Jack Lisowski v Anthony McGill
Ronnie O’Sullivan (8-1) Thepchaiya Un-Nooh*

Yan Bingtao (7-1) Elliot Slessor*
Shaun Murphy v Noppon Saengkham

Jack Lisowski v Anthony McGill*
Mark Selby v Jordan Brown