World Snooker Championship 2012: O'Sullivan beats Ebdon
WORLD SNOOKER CHAMPIONSHIP
- Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
- 21 April - 7 May
- Start times:
- Sessions at 1000, 1430 & 1900 BST
- Live coverage on BBC TV, HD Channel, Red Button and online
Ronnie O'Sullivan completed a 10-4 victory over old rival Peter Ebdon with few alarms to launch his bid for a fourth World Championship title.
The three-time champion, resuming 7-2 up after a dominant first session, made an 80 clearance to extend his lead.
Ebdon, champion in 2002, hit back to make it 8-3 before a run of 68 put O'Sullivan within one frame of victory.
Breaks of 45 and 51 saw Ebdon extend the match, but after an interval O'Sullivan sealed victory with a 54.
"All credit to Peter, he has had a fantastic season, won the last ranking event and is one of the hardest competitors on the circuit," O'Sullivan told BBC Sport. "He made it tough for me and I am just pleased to get the win.
"No-one runs away with it with Peter. He has won the title here before and he is one of the great competitors of our game."
O'Sullivan, who has recently been dealing with the after-effects of glandular fever, will face either two-time champion Mark Williams or China's Liu Chiang in the second round starting on Saturday, 28 April.
"Mark has a tough match there," he added. "I have played Liu a few times in practice and he has beaten me, so it will be tough whoever I play.
"But you don't expect any easy matches at the Crucible. It is just nice to get through and have the chance to go again."
Despite O'Sullivan's generous words for his opponent, who has twice beaten him at the Crucible, Ebdon showed little of the form that saw him win last month's China Open and his World Championship qualifier 10-0 against Alfie Burden.
After a riveting opening frame that could have gone either way but eventually went to O'Sullivan after 21 shots on a re-spotted black, the 41-year-old never got close enough to putting 'The Rocket' under any pressure.
A 103 break - his 107th century at the Crucible - helped O'Sullivan into a 3-1 lead, but he did not have to find anything approaching top form to end Monday's first session with a 7-2 lead, only a battling 90 from Ebdon in the last frame of the day keeping him in touch overnight.
It was a similar story when they resumed on Tuesday, Ebdon failing to profit from several good chances as O'Sullivan's greater scoring prowess proved decisive.
Meanwhile, qualifier Andrew Higginson knocked out world number eight Stephen Lee, who lost in the first round for the sixth successive year.
Higginson's 10-6 victory earned a second-round match with Welshman Jamie Jones, who beat former champion Shaun Murphy in round one.