RONNIE O’SULLIVAN is on course to reach the second round of the World Championship after a cruising display on his Crucible return.
The five-times world champion dominated his opening session against Crucible debutant Craig Steadman taking a commanding 7-2 lead overnight.
O’Sullivan was in so much control he even played without shoes on during one frame because of foot pain. He just needs three more frames to complete victory.
Playing at the famous venue for the first time since losing the World Championship final last year, O’Sullivan made a blistering start to proceedings making a magnificent break of 104 in the first frame.
A break of 61 from O’Sullivan doubled his lead before Steadman won his first ever frame at the Crucible with a break of 71 in the third.
But O’Sullivan, who has reached the final of the World Championship in the past three years, dominated the remainder of the session losing just one more frame.
China’s number one star Ding Junhui progressed through to the next round despite making a 147 blunder in the later stages of his first round tie with Mark Davis.
Ding, who was in danger of a first round exit after trailing 4-0 to Davis yesterday, battled back and dominated the final session to take a 10-7 victory into the next round.
However while trailing 5-3, Ding potted 12 reds with blacks and looked in a good position to win a possible £30,000 for the eleventh Crucible maximum until, to the crowd’s disbelief, he opted to play for the blue. When realising the mistake he then changed his shot and missed a thin cut on the black to end the break.
Ding though made up for his disappointment by winning five of the next seven frames to book his place in the second round – an intriguing tie with four-times world champion John Higgins.
Ali Carter managed to build on his 6-3 overnight lead against former Masters winner Alan McManus by beating the Scot 10-5.
Carter, who has appeared in two World Championship finals, will next face Australian Neil Robertson who thrashed Jamie Jones 10-2 to reach the Last 16 stage.
Elsewhere, Mark Allen put on a solid display as he booked his ticket to the next round with a 10-3 win over Ryan Day.
Allen, looking to win his first World Championship title, was in fine form hitting eight breaks of 50 plus. The Ulsterman will face Barry Hawkins in the next round.
And two-times world champion Mark Williams was left with a huge battle on his hands as he trailed overnight to Matthew Stevens in the Welsh derby.
Stevens put on one of his best displays of a frustrating season to lead 7-2 against Williams who in recent times has looked like being back to his best form having reached two major ranking semi-finals and being a finalist in last month’s Players Championship.