A trio of former World Champions are among the star names on show on Day Two of the 2023 World Snooker Championship in Sheffield on Sunday.
Ronnie O’Sullivan launched the defence of his title on the opening day at The Crucible, and a clutch of top seeds will aim to join him in the Second Round next week.
Ding Junhui and Hossein Vafaei go head-to-head for the right to face ‘The Rocket’ in Round Two and contest the first session in the morning.
Ding went agonisingly close to becoming the first Asian World Champion when he reached the final here in 2016, losing out to Mark Selby.
Since then, his form has somewhat fluctuated, but he has added the World Open (2017) and a third UK Championship title in 2019 to his haul of ranking silverware.
Winner of this season’s Six-Red World Championship, Ding was also runner-up to Mark Allen at the UK Championship and reached the Semi-Finals of the Tour Championship earlier this month.
He is aiming to avoid a third consecutive defeat in the First Round at The Crucible, but has been handed one of the toughest possible opening assignments against the world number 23.
Former Shoot Out champion Vafaei returns for a second successive stint in the sport’s show-piece, having lost out to Judd Trump in Round One last year.
The Iranian trailblazer defeated Welsh duo Andrew Pagett and Jackson Page in the qualifiers and will be hoping to create a slice of history by becoming the first Persian player to register a win at The Crucible.
Meanwhile, Mark Williams commences his latest quest for a fourth world title with a clash against Jimmy Robertson in the afternoon session.
Williams ended a 15-year wait for glory by bagging his third Crucible crown in 2018 and remains in the top echelons of the sport at the age of 48.
Runner-up in The Masters in January, Williams has reached at least the Quarter-Final stage in four of his last five Crucible campaigns and has not lost in the opening round here since 2015.
Robertson returns hoping to make it fifth time lucky at The Crucible, having suffered First Round exits in 2011, 2015, 2017 and 2018 – when he was beaten 10-5 by Williams.
The 2018 European Masters champion overcame Belgium’s Ben Mertens 10-6 before thrashing former German Masters winner Anthony Hamilton 10-2 to secure qualification last week.
Stuart Bingham looks to pick up from where he left off on Saturday when he resumes his tie with David Gilbert at 6-3 in front.
Bingham, the 2015 World Champion, trailed 3-1 before reeling off five unanswered frames to take command at the halfway stage, with the pair having compiled a century apiece so far.
Neil Robertson, the 2010 champion, also aims to press home a 6-3 advantage in his meeting with 19-year-old Wu Yize – the youngest player in this year’s event.
Robertson produced breaks of 138, 96, 79, 64 and 80 in a high quality first session, with debutant Wu landing back-to-back breaks of 107.
Luca Brecel also holds a 6-3 lead going into his final session against former semi-finalist Ricky Walden, as the Belgian bids to wrap up an elusive first win at The Crucible in six attempts.
Two-time world finalist Ali Carter trails Welsh debutant Jak Jones 5-4 going into their closing session despite a magnificent break of 143, with Jones having fired in breaks of 74, 60, 75 and 65 in a nerveless start.
The action gets under way from 10am BST, with First Round matches to be contested over the best of 19 frames.
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World Snooker Championship 2023 Day Two Schedule
*Indicates final session
Sunday April 16
Ding Junhui v Hossein Vafaei
Stuart Bingham (6-3) David Gilbert*
Mark Williams v Jimmy Robertson
Neil Robertson (6-3) Wu Yize*
Luca Brecel (6-3) Ricky Walden*
Ali Carter (4-5) Jak Jones*
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