Ronnie O’Sullivan equalled long-standing records held by Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry by beating David Gilbert 10-5 in the first round of the Betfred World Championship.
The Rocket is making his 30th appearance at the Crucible, matching Davis’ total. And victory over Gilbert was the 70th match he has won at the Theatre of Dreams, a record Hendry had held on his own since 2012. O’Sullivan will make it 71 if he can beat Mark Allen or Scott Donaldson in a second round tie which starts on Friday morning.
His target at the end of the fortnight is Hendry’s greatest record – seven world titles – the only one which O’Sullivan needs to equal to put beyond doubt his status as snooker’s all-time number one. He landed his sixth crown in 2020 and, at the age of 46, remains one of the favourites for the first prize.
O’Sullivan was handed a tough first round assignment against Gilbert, a semi-finalist here in 2019, and struggled for rhythm in sections of the contest, but eventually secured a place in the last 16 for the 26th time.
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