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Professional Snooker / 2016 Betfred World Snooker Championship

16th April - 2nd May 2016 / The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, England


For the 13th consecutive year, Ronnie O'Sullivan will feature in the World Championship Last 16; although he was given a stern workout during his 10-7 victory over World Number 22 qualifier David Gilbert.

Gilbert, this season's International Championship runner-up, was making his fourth Crucible bow. He looked pretty comfortable and assured throughout, but probably felt aggrieved at trailing 6-3 overnight after O'Sullivan had pinched three frames on the colours in Sunday's first session.

On the resumption Monday morning, Gilbert reduced his troubles to 4-6 after runs of 60 and 62, but 'The Rocket' won another close one with the eleventh to re-open a three frame cushion.

A 101 from O'Sullivan put him 8-4 up and presumably out of reach, however, Gilbert showed great resolve by claiming three of the next four to keep the tie alive.

Visibly concerned that he was still involved, the five time champion and tournament favourite was relieved to finish proceedings off with the aid of a 72 in the seventeenth.

Overall, it was a high quality affair from both parties. They each made a ton and six half centuries (Gilbert's best effort was a 125 in Frame 7). To put the task into context, it was Ronnie's closest First Round match since his 10-7 win against Liang Wenbo in 2010. It is also his 60th Crucible success, drawing himself level on that all-time list with Steve Davis.

O'Sullivan swells his seasonal figures to 27 match wins out of 31, but bizarrely chose to skip all media arrangements / interviews after today's tie. A decision which will put him in hot water with the authorities.

With Shaun Murphy's dismissal at the hands of Anthony McGill yesterday, O'Sullivan's side of the draw has certainly become more favourable. Especially given the top seeds here are players he has heavily beaten recently.

Another multiple World Champion to make it through to Round 2 was Mark Williams after he turned over 2006 winner Graeme Dott 10-4.

It was a very polished performance from the Welsh number 13 seed who did the real damage when winning the opening session 7-2 with a barrage of breaks (54, 57, 66, 76, 70 and 59).

When they returned, Williams continued his clinical scoring with contributions of 55 and 102 to make it 9-2, and despite Dott prolonging it with efforts of 54 and 88, the contest was over after the fourteenth.

​Today was Williams' first win at the Crucible since 2012, and it will be only his third appearance in the Last 16 of a major ranking event this season.

Come the evening session, World Number 59 Sam Baird chalked up the most significant win of his professional career so far when he eliminated Michael White 10-7 - the fourth seed to perish.

Predicted by most quarters to be close, Baird shaded the first session 5-4 with a 108 in the ninth frame. Tonight's action began with White turning the deficit into a 6-5 lead (not the first time he'd held it), before Sam kept in touch with the twelve after Michael went in-off playing a thin safety on the last black.

​White re-took the front with a 102 in the next, but as is so often the case, the mid-session interval seemed to alter the fabric of the meeting.

Now playing to a finish, Baird went on a blistering four frame winning streak with runs of 54, 103 and 62 to secure his passage through. White was restricted to just a total of 28 points in this period.

​The 27 year old now pockets a guaranteed £22,000; nearly double his previous best. He can also expel the 10-2 nightmare he suffered at the hands of Stuart Bingham on his debut here in 2013 from his memory.

Ricky Walden very nearly joined White through the exit door when trailing qualifier Robbie Williams 5-7.

In a fairly low key contest early doors, the recent back to back Players Championship and China Open finalist showed his class by bagging five of the last six for a 10-8 win. During that closing spell, Walden totted up breaks of 70, 53, 68 and 87; he had previously only registered two half centuries before. Williams made a 104 in the seventeenth.

Despite being a three-time major ranking winner, this is only the third time Ricky has negotiated the first hurdle at the Crucible.

Written and published by Michael Day on the 18th April 2016