Ronnie O’Sullivan (9/2 – Tournament Outright) says his winning mentality proved the difference after beating opening round opponent David Gilbert 10-5 at the Betfred World Snooker Championship.
The 46-year-old came from 3-0 down to ease past his fellow Englishman, with his victory including breaks of 122, 109 and 104.
O’Sullivan will next face the winner of the match between Mark Allen and Scott Donaldson (Match Result – Allen 3/10, Donaldson 13/5) and another victory would see him edge closer to equalling Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles.
Speaking afterwards, the Rocket admitted he wasn’t at his best but that the determination to win drilled into him over the years meant he had too much for Gilbert.
“I am out there playing, enjoying it and just trying to compete,” O’Sullivan told the BBC. “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.
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“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.”
Elsewhere and three-time world champion Mark Williams (14/1 – Tournament Outright) leads fellow Welshman Michael White 7-2. The 47-year-old made three centuries and further breaks of 90 and 71 to help establish his lead and they resume on Monday.
Anthony McGill and Liam Highfield will also play to a finish, with the Scot 6-3 up overnight, while Allen and Donaldson start their campaigns at 10:00.
Two former champions also take to the table at third year’s Crucible showpiece for the first time. The 2010 hero Neil Robertson is set to take on Sheffield-based debutant Ashley Hugill (Match Result – Robertson 1/33, Hugill 12/1), while 2015 winner Stuart Bingham faces Lyu Haotian (Match Result – Bingham 3/10, Haotian 13/5).
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