RONNIE O’Sullivan marked his anticipated return to snooker with an impressive display against Marcus Campbell to put him on course for a place in the second round.
The Rocket showed some of his typical sparkling snooker in his first competitive match since September last year as he took a dominant 7-2 lead over the Scot at the close of the opening session.
The defending champion looked like he had never been away after a sharp break of 82 gave him the perfect start in taking the first frame.
O’Sullivan looked set to double his lead until he missed a thin yellow when leading by 49-0. Campbell could only reply with 24 but later took full advantage of a second chance as a terrific double on the pink levelled the scores at 1-1.
And the world number 27 appeared to be settling into his stride when he took a 51 point lead in the third. But when he missed a simple red, O’Sullivan showed his sharpness once again with a break of 62 to go back in front.
The Rocket then went 3-1 up at the mid-session interval after Campbell threw away another good chance of closing the frame as O’Sullivan capitalised on a foul from his opponent to clear the table with a 71 break. What could have been a 3-1 lead for Campbell was instead a two-frame deficit.
The resumption saw the match go in the same pattern as Campbell, for the third frame running, failed to take advantage of a strong position as O’Sullivan cleared from green to black to take a 4-1 lead.
O’Sullivan then stretched his advantage further with a break of 85 before Campbell doubled his frame count in the seventh frame.
But the returning star refused to let Campbell fightback as he took the remaining two frames to take a commanding 7-2 lead going into tonight’s final session.
Meanwhile, this morning’s other match saw Ricky Walden put himself within two frames of a place in the second round against Michael Holt.
The world number 13 was in impressive form against the Nottingham potter taking an 8-1 lead at the close of the first session. The match resumes to a finish on Sunday morning.
Walden also made himself an early contender for the highest break prize with a superb 140 clearance in the third frame of the contest.