WORLD champion Ronnie O’Sullivan made a winning return to major ranking event snooker after completing a first round win on the opening day of the International Championship.
Playing in his first major tournament since winning the World Championship in May, the Rocket beat Anthony McGill 6-2 to make the second round of the sport’s biggest tournament outside the UK.
Staged in Chengdu in China, the International Championship is the third biggest ranking event in the snooker calendar and, now in its second year, offers total prize money of more than £600,000 – only the UK Championship and the World Championship dishes out more.
O’Sullivan’s next opponent will be recent APTC 3 winner Liang Wenbo who continued his fine form with a 6-3 win over fellow Chinese star Li Yan.
Four-times world champion John Higgins also eased into the last 32 stage with a 6-2 win over Joe Swail.
The game of the day saw Joe Perry come back from 5-1 behind to defeat Welshman Jamie Jones in a thrilling eleven frame first round clash.
Perry looked down and out when a break of 96 from Jones put him just one frame away from the second round but the world number 19 battled back brilliantly winning five frames on the bounce with breaks of 82 and 107 along the way.
And the host nation had a story of its own to remember the tournament’s opening day by as 16-year-old Zhao Xintong pulled off the result of his life beating six-times world snooker champion Steve Davis 6-1 in one of four wildcard matches.
Jimmy White, Kyren Wilson and Alan McManus avoided wildcard round shocks after beating Yuan Sijun, Lin Shuai and Zhou Yuelong respectively.
Elsewhere, former world champion Graeme Dott booked his place in the last 32 with a 6-4 win against Michael White and Welshman Matthew Stevens came back from behind to defeat Rory McLeod 6-4.
Indian Open semi-finalist Pankaj Advani suffered an early exit after losing out 6-4 to Dave Harold and world number 14 Robert Milkins suffered a surprise 6-2 defeat to Norway’s Kurt Maflin.
The opening day also saw wins for Mark Davis, Martin Gould and Stuart Carrington who beat Oliver Brown, Matthew Selt and Michael Leslie respectively.
Tomorrow (Monday) sees the 18 remaining first round matches take place as International Championship defending champion Judd Trump takes on wildcard winner McManus.
Shanghai Masters and Indian Open winner Ding Junhui also starts hid bid for a third successive major ranking event to his name and world number one star Neil Robertson faces Alex Davies.
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