World Snooker Championship 2022: Ronnie O’Sullivan beats David Gilbert

World Snooker Championship 2022: Ronnie O’Sullivan beats David Gilbert

O’Sullivan won his most recent world title in 2020 – 19 years after his firstVenue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 16 April-2 MayCoverage: Watch live on BBC TV and Red Button with uninterrupted coverage on BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport appWorld number one Ronnie O’Sullivan says a “gladiator” mentality helped him…

Ronnie O'Sullivan
O’Sullivan won his most recent world title in 2020 – 19 years after his first
Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 16 April-2 May
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV and Red Button with uninterrupted coverage on BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app

World number one Ronnie O’Sullivan says a “gladiator” mentality helped him come from behind to beat David Gilbert 10-5 at the World Championship.

The Rocket is aiming for a record-equalling seventh Crucible crown and turned the match around from 3-0 down with high breaks of 122, 109 and 104.

O’Sullivan, 46, will face Mark Allen or Scott Donaldson in the second round.

Wales’ Mark Williams leads amateur compatriot Michael White 7-2 in his quest for a fourth world title.

Williams was in scintillating form, making three centuries and further breaks of 90 and 71 and they play to a finish on Monday afternoon.

O’Sullivan aiming for more records

Along with illustrious names including Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis, O’Sullivan is widely regarded as one of the greatest snooker players of all time.

Now the Englishman is bidding to overturn milestones that would put him out in front on his own.

He is appearing at the Crucible Theatre for the 30th time, equalling Davis’ record, and his triumph over Gilbert takes him to 70 wins at the venue, drawing alongside Hendry.

A relaxed O’Sullivan was in a chirpy mood at the media day on the eve of the tournament, saying he is “not going to turn down” the chance of winning a seventh world title to draw level with his old adversary Hendry.

To go alongside his undoubted talent, a more laidback approach from O’Sullivan makes him an even more dangerous proposition as he previously might have wilted when falling behind.

Gilbert’s rapid start saw him surge 3-0 ahead but O’Sullivan kept his composure by winning six frames in a row to take control.

Gilbert took the first two frames of the second session but a fluked yellow swung the momentum O’Sullivan’s way as he claimed three in a row for victory.

O’Sullivan said: “I am out there playing, enjoying it and just trying to compete. It is like Gladiator, Russell Crowe has a hole in his arm and knows he is going to die but you just have to find a way. That is what winners and gladiators do.

“I probably wasn’t born to play snooker but I was born to do something with a ball. I just wish it would have been another sport where my temperament would have been suited to it. I find snooker challenging.

“To be the best at something it takes graft, time and effort, sometimes you ask yourself ‘why am I doing this?’

“I was never born a winner, but I had to have it drummed into me. A bit like Serena Williams and Tiger Woods, I had that type of father figure where I was told ‘you are going to be a success’. I wasn’t that bothered but I was toughened up mentally, I was mentored that way.”

Gilbert added: “He scores so well, it seems like his head is screwed on and he has a huge chance.”

Elsewhere…

The 2005 champion Shaun Murphy became the biggest name to exit so far, defeated 10-8 by Scotland’s Stephen Maguire.

Englishman Murphy fell 6-2 behind and rallied to lead 8-7, featuring a prolonged 14th frame which took 71 minutes, but qualifier Maguire emerged victorious with three in a row.

UK champion Zhao Xintong laid down a marker by completing a 10-2 demolition of Jamie Clarke from Wales. The Chinese player notched his first World Championship win in impressive fashion, stroking in two centuries and five further breaks of 70 or more.

Another Welshman, 20-year-old Jackson Page, stunned former finalist and world number nine Barry Hawkins on his Crucible debut, clinching an impressive 10-7 victory.

Page, ranked 90th in the world, showed few nerves and closed out the match with back-to-back centuries.

He said: “I’m here to win it, I’ve just got to keep doing what I am doing and if I do, I’m going to have a chance.”

Scotland’s Anthony McGill, a semi-finalist two years ago, leads England’s Liam Highfield 6-3 heading into the conclusion on Monday morning.

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