Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson and Mark Selby are all in World Snooker Championship action on a mouth-watering Day Six at The Crucible.
The first Thursday of snooker’s blue-riband event has quickly rolled around in Sheffield, where the last 16 gets underway while the opening round draws to a conclusion.
Reigning champion O’Sullivan kicks off with the first of the second-round ties, as he resumes his quest for a seventh World title against Anthony McGill.
The Rocket took a while to catch fire in his opening clash against debutant Mark Joyce, but finished with a flourish as three successive centuries secured a commanding 10-4 win.
O’Sullivan has only exited at the second-round stage as defending champion on one previous occasion; losing 13-11 against Mark Allen in 2009.
The 45-year-old has won all six of his meetings with 2020 semi-finalist McGill, who was one frame away from locking horns with him in last year’s showpiece.
The world number 16 was denied a place in the final after suffering an agonising 17-16 defeat against Kyren Wilson, and will be desperate to go a couple of steps better eight months on.
The Scotsman hit two tons in his 10-5 victory over Ricky Walden in round one this year, but is yet to advance beyond this stage of a ranking event since that run to the semis here.
The in-form Neil Robertson also looked impressive during the opening round, with three centuries in his comprehensive 10-3 success against Liang Wenbo.
The Tour Championship winner faces another fellow left-hander in Jack Lisowski, who he has beaten in all five of their previous encounters.
Robertson, champion in 2010, is aiming to reach a third consecutive quarter-final in Sheffield, where he has progressed in eight of his 11 last-16 ties.
Lisowski demonstrated tremendous bottle to prevail in a deciding frame against two-time finalist Ali Carter; securing only his second win at the Crucible in six appearances.
‘Jackpot’ received a 13-1 drubbing from an inspired John Higgins when he last reached this stage in 2018, and will be desperate to avoid a repeat of that at all costs three years on.
Meanwhile, Mark Selby needs just two more frames to see off Kurt Maflin and book his place in the second round.
The three-time World champion has only suffered one first-round exit here since 2013, and it would take a catastrophic collapse for him to surrender his healthy 8-1 advantage over last year’s quarter-finalist.
Elsewhere, the other remaining opening-round tie between Shaun Murphy and Mark Davis is finely poised, with the latter holding a slender 5-4 lead.
As things stand, 2005 champion Murphy is in danger of falling at the first hurdle for the fourth time since reaching his third Crucible final in 2015.
But he will not go down without a fight against the Battler from Hastings, who is eyeing only a fourth second-round appearance in 12 visits to Sheffield.
World Snooker Championship 2021 Day Six Schedule
Thursday April 22
13* Shaun Murphy (4-5) Mark Davis (R1)
17 Ronnie O’Sullivan v Anthony McGill (R2)
8* Mark Selby (8-1) Kurt Maflin (R1)
21 Neil Robertson v Jack Lisowski (R2)