O'Sullivan halts Liang fightback to advance

RONNIE O'Sullivan set up a second-round clash with Mark Williams by stumbling over the finish line in his Crucible opener against Liang Wenbo.

Title favourite O'Sullivan looked in trouble at the Betfred.com World Championship after letting a 9-3 lead dwindle to 9-7. But a break of 73 in the 17th frame saw him clinch his place in the last 16.

As with his performance on Monday, O'Sullivan played outstanding snooker in spurts, but for long stretches he looked almost disinterested, even when at the table.

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"I just didn't get going today and he played all right towards the end, he looked quite dangerous in the last two or three frames," O'Sullivan said.

"The pressure was getting on me a bit so I had to find something from somewhere. The nerves play a big part here and unless you settle and find your rhythm then it can be tough."

When Liang cut the deficit to 9-4 with a 61 break it only looked like brief resistance, but he followed that up with 103 after the resumption, and then made it 9-6 after a frame in which both men played twitchy snooker.

Suddenly there was a glimmer of hope for Liang, more so when he fired in 127 – the highest break of the tournament so far – to go 9-7. But then the door was shut on his hopes, O'Sullivan taking his chance to set up his clash with Williams.

"It'll be a good game because I don't think you can get a harder draw than Mark in the second round," O'Sullivan said. "He's coming back to form and other than John Higgins he'd probably be favourite. He's probably the only player that can beat John if John's playing well. So it's a really hard draw, he's playing well at the moment so I could have done with an easier match really."