UK Championship: Ronnie O'Sullivan 'felt awful' but eases through to round two
|Betway UK Championship|
|Venue: York Barbican Dates: 27 November-9 December|
|Coverage: Watch live across BBC Two, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TV, the BBC Sport website and mobile app from 1 December.|
Defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan says he "really, really struggled" with illness while advancing into the second round of the UK Championship with a 6-1 win over the 128th seed Luke Simmonds.
Simmonds settled impressively, taking the first frame with a break of 56.
But O'Sullivan, who is chasing a record seventh UK title, rattled off three frames, finishing with a break of 97 to lead 3-1 at the interval.
Back-to-back tons made it 5-1 and he closed out victory with a 77 break.
"I am not feeling well - I must be coming down with some sort of virus," said five-time world champion O'Sullivan. "At one point I was not even sure I would be able to get through - I feel absolutely awful.
"I could not focus on the ball and had to grind it out. It felt like one of the hardest matches I have ever had to play.
"It was really hard. I was really, really struggling and felt like I couldn't focus on the balls.
"Every shot felt like a black ball in the world final. My back hand was shaking and I didn't feel great."
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Simmonds, a 38-year-old amateur from the Isle of Wight, had a chance to go 2-0 up after a bright start in front of a near-capacity crowd at the York Barbican.
But O'Sullivan edged a crucial safety exchange and, after winning a scrappy third frame when Simmonds broke down on 46, the tournament favourite seized control.
He edged closer to the magical 1,000 century mark - a feat never achieved by any player before - with a typically rapid 118 in frame five.
The 33-time ranking event winner backed that up with a break of 112, taking him to 980 career centuries, on his way to setting up a second-round tie against 1997 world champion Ken Doherty.
Elsewhere, former World Championship runner-up Barry Hawkins progressed with a 6-0 win over Jamie Clarke, while Sam Baird came back from 5-1 down to earn a sensational 6-5 victory over 2015 runner-up Liang Wenbo.
The morning session saw 13th seed Luca Brecel, 2003 winner Matthew Stevens and 2004 winner Stephen Maguire all go through.
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