RONNIE O’Sullivan just needs three more frames to book his place in the second round of the World Championship after producing a dominant display against qualifier Robin Hull.
The defending champion took full control in front of a packed Crucible Theatre crowd, earning himself a huge 7-2 lead going into this evening’s final session.
But Hull, playing at the Crucible for the first time since 2002, will be disappointed not to have made more of the decent chances which came his way and now finds himself with much work to do to mount a comeback.
The world number 122 looked like winning the opening frame against the five-times world champion after a break of 53 but then missed a long pot on the final red allowing O’Sullivan to clear up the table.
O’Sullivan looked like he never been away from the Crucible when he doubled his lead with a superb break of 124 – the first century of the tournament. And his lead soon extended to 3-0 when a run of 69 punished Hull who earlier missed the pink with the rest.
Hull, however, got off the mark in style in the next frame as a break of 102 meant he went into the mid-session interval 3-1 down.
The first frame after the restart was scrappy but proved to be the most pivotal of the contest so far as O’Sullivan came back from needing a snooker and later produced a sublime deep screw shot from pink to black to take a 4-1 advantage.A break of 81 soon followed as the one-way traffic continued.
The seventh frame saw Hull reduce his arrears to 5-2 but O’Sullivan took the next two frames with breaks of 60 and 90 to be in cruise control.
Meanwhile, on table two world number six Stuart Bingham saw an early 3-0 lead pegged back to just a single frame in his opening round match against Ken Doherty.
Bingham, bidding to win his first world title, took full control as a top break of 85 helped to him to a three-frame lead against the 1997 Crucible winner.
But Doherty, who kissed the carpet when entering the arena, fought back taking the next two frames either side of the mid-session interval.
The next two frames were shared before Doherty cleared with a 31 break to end the session just 5-4 behind. The match concludes on Sunday morning.