All eyes will be on Ronnie O’Sullivan on Saturday when he begins his Betfred World Championship campaign against David Gilbert at the Crucible (O’Sullivan 2/7, Gilbert 11/4 – Match Betting).
“The Rocket” is predicting “carnage” in the first round and he insists he is not thinking about a seventh world title, which would allow him to equal Stephen Hendry’s haul.
O’Sullivan (6/1 Outright) believes some of the qualifiers in this year’s tournament have enormous potential, and he is well aware of the dangers ahead of the Sheffield showpiece.
He told reporters: “I think anyone can win the tournament this year because there are so many good players.
“The first round here could be like the first corner in a Formula One race – carnage.
“And I have to survive it. There are some unbelievable qualifiers that have come through, and I think there will be a lot of seeds falling by the wayside.
“Every first-round match I have played in Sheffield has been hard. It is probably the hardest match you play all year. It gets easier after the first match, so the longer I stay in, the more dangerous I will probably be.
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“I don’t really have any expectations. I’m going to be coming here for 18 days no matter what, and I’m going to enjoy myself. If I’m still in the tournament, great. If I’m not, it will still be great – I’m not too worried.”
Fans will be in for a treat on day one of the 46th World Championship, with defending champion Mark Selby in action in the morning session.
He will face Jamie Jones, while O’Sullivan gets going on Saturday afternoon.
O’Sullivan will equal Steve Davis’ record of 30 appearances this weekend, and he arrives in Yorkshire as the world’s number one after his semi-final appearance at the Tour Championship.
Shaun Murphy and Stephen Maguire (Murphy 8/11, Maguire 11/10 – Match Betting) will meet in Saturday’s evening session, while Barry Hawkins takes on Jackson Page.
China’s Zhao Xintong is also due to play on Saturday, with Jamie Clarke trying to stop him from reaching the second round.
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