Rocket handed Bingham test

World number one Ronnie O’Sullivan will kick off his bid for a fourth World Snooker Championship crown with a first-round tie against Stuart Bingham.

World number one Ronnie O’Sullivan will kick off his bid for a fourth World Snooker Championship crown with a first-round tie against Stuart Bingham.

The defending champion was paired with the world number 21 at today’s draw for the last 32 of the tournament, which gets underway on April 18 at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.

Arguably the tie of the round sees seven-time champion Stephen Hendry meet two-time winner Mark Williams, who came through qualifying to reach this stage.

Ali Carter, last year’s runner-up, plays Gerard Greene, while Australia’s Neil Robertson meets six-time champion Steve Davis, who booked his 28th appearance in the final stages of the tournament with a hard-fought qualifying win over Lee Spick yesterday.

Elsewhere, 2002 world champion Peter Ebdon will play 1995 finalist Nigel Bond, 2005 winner Shaun Murphy comes up against Andrew Higginson, and two-time champion John Higgins meets world number 34 Michael Holt.

The first-round draw has also thrown up an all-Chinese clash, with Ding Junhui paired against Liang Wenbo.

First-round draw:

R O’Sullivan (Eng) v S Bingham (Eng)

M Allen (NIr) v M Gould (Eng)

P Ebdon (Eng) v N Bond (Eng)

R Day (Wal) v S Lee (Eng)

J Higgins (Sco) v M Holt (Eng)

J Perry (Eng) v J Cope (Eng)

G Dott (Sco) v B Hawkins (Eng)

M Selby (Eng) v R Walden (Eng)

S Murphy (Eng) v A Higginson (Eng)

M Fu (HK) v J Swail (NIr)

D Junhui (Chn) v L Wenbo (Chn)

S Hendry (Sco) v M Williams (Wal)

A Carter (Eng) v G Greene (NIr)

N Robertson (Aus) v S Davis (Eng)

M King (Eng) v R McLeod (Eng)

S Maguire (Sco) v J Burnett (Sco)

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