Ronnie O’Sullivan beat Mark Joyce 10-4 in the first round of the World Snooker Championships as fans were allowed to return to sporting events in the UK for the first time this year.
632 tickets were sold for all three sessions of the Crucible on Saturday, with a crowd capping of 33% of the venue’s total capacity for the first round.
The tournament acts as one of the government test events for the return of fans, which is being used to help England and the sport out of lockdown.
Snooker gathered just before 3 pm to halt the event and pay homage to the Duke of Edinburgh.
we are here ! Blood, sweat and tears, but after all the troubles and failures we are on the verge of returning to normal life thanks to the wonderful efforts he makes. Embed a Tweet Equipped. My thanks to everyone involved. Relax now and enjoy the biggest snooker show in the world.
– BarryHearn April 17, 2021
O’Sullivan began his defense of his world title in snooker with an unconvincing 6-3 lead over Mark Joyce in the tournament’s opening session.
“Rocket” was far from his best, scoring the top 70 fractures in a bug-ridden session, including the last two frames to get four frames away from a win before the evening session.
Although the evening session resumed with a major advantage, O’Sullivan’s frustrations appeared to persist as he missed the plain red and allowed Joyce to reduce the deficit to 6-4.
But a half-century brought back the three-tire advantage to O’Sullivan before successive splendid centuries of 124 and 137 moved it into one frame of triumph.
Joyce eventually finished a 343-point streak against him in the next frame, but he missed a red in the middle and O’Sullivan duly responded with his third straight stomach – this time a terrific 112 – to conclude his win with 10..
Either Ricky Walden or Anthony McGill will be O’Sullivan’s opponents in the second round.
Elsewhere, current Masters champion Yan Pingtao tied 4-4 with Mark Gould.
Neil Robertson puts a 6-3 lead over Liang Wongbo at the end of the first tournament, which is due to end on Sunday.
Robertson made his 108th break en route to a healthy edge, scoring three goals 5-2 after Liang shook the simplest of the blues.
But Liang, who lost the UK Championship final to Robertson in 2015, managed 126 breaks in the ninth frame, giving him a ray of hope.
Jimmy Jones recovered from a three-tire deficit to take an overnight lead 5-4 over eighth seed Stephen Maguire.
Jones, who has successfully confronted an increasingly disjointed, plays the crucible for the first time in a yearlong ban for failing to report an illegal betting approach.