Ronnie O’Sullivan remains the favourite to win this year’s World Championship after he delivered a superb comeback performance to win his first round match.
The five-times world champion came into Day 2 of this Crucible extravaganza very much on the back foot after trailing 6-3 to qualifier and world number 18 Stephen Maguire.
But O’Sullivan managed to avoid a very rare first round elimination at the Crucible after he won seven of the eight frames of the second session to clinch a 10-7 win.
The Rocket is bidding to win a record sixth ranking event of the season and will now face either Ali Carter or Graeme Dott in the next round.
But Maguire will be left kicking himself for not taking a series of chances which have proved ultimately costly for him – otherwise the Scot could have won fairly comfortably.
Leading 6-4, Maguire missed a crucial cut on the red with a 49 point advantage. The miss allowed O’Sullivan to make a brilliant clearance of 86 as he reduced his deficit to 6-5.
Then soon afterwards, Maguire was two pots away from clinching the next frame but missed a crucial pink and left it for O’Sullivan to pot which saw him level the scores at 6-6.
And more misses in frames 14 and 15 from Maguire allowed O’Sullivan to take the lead for the first time before he went on to win the match.
Speaking to the BBC after his first round win, O’Sullivan revealed he felt “embarrassed” to be at the famous arena during the first session when he was trailing Maguire 4-0 .
O’Sullivan said: “I was embarrassed out there in the first four frames.
“I couldn’t even look at people in the crowd because I felt so embarrassed. My highest break was 27 and I was pleased to make a 27.
“It (The Crucible) can be really great or really bad.”
Elsewhere, Masters winner Mark Allen made a strong start in his bid to win the World Championship for the first time winning six of the opening nine frames against qualifier and Crucible debutant Liam Highfield.