O'Sullivan cruises through at York

Ronnie O’Sullivan was in relaxed mood after a straightforward first-round outing at the UK Championship against Scottish amateur Rhys Clark.

Ronnie O’Sullivan was in relaxed mood after a straightforward first-round outing at the UK Championship against Scottish amateur Rhys Clark.

O’Sullivan was able to spend much of the 6-0 win pursuing a 147 as the teenager was struck by stage-fright.

Breaks of 82 and 71 put O’Sullivan in command at 3-0 and he took blacks with his first six reds in frame four before losing position.

Another maximum attempt stalled early when he missed an over-ambitious sixth red, but the four-time champion could afford such liberties as he outscored his opponent 521 points to 38.

The rollover prize for a 147 has reached £55,000 and O’Sullivan said: “School fees have been paid last week, if I can get a bit of Christmas money this week...

“I went for one virtually every frame, from the second frame my focus was on trying to get a 147.”

Mark Selby had a much tougher outing as he came from 3-1 down to beat 15-year-old Shane Castle 6-4.

The world number two from Leicester needed an outrageous fluke to help him win the first frame and the nerveless Castle then won the remaining three frames before the interval, a 75 break the highlight.

But Selby got back on track with a 109 and moved 4-3 ahead as Castle was twice frustrated by bad kicks.

The youngster levelled but Selby pulled through with breaks of 74 and 54.

“Never in doubt, was it?” he quipped as he came into his press conference.

He added: “In patches I played okay but in other bits I was a little bit average.

“At the interval Shane fully deserved to be 3-1 up, he was the better player and handled it really well.

“I’m just happy to get through.”

World number one Neil Robertson was a 6-0 winner against another teenage amateur, Keighley’s Dylan Mitchell.

Despite a 107 in frame three and a closing 73 the scoreline was harsh on Mitchell, who by no means disgraced himself.

Robertson said: “I’ve never seen him play before so I treated Dylan with the utmost respect. I was never going to take any liberties or do ridiculous things to try and make a 147.”

Mitchell laughed off his own abortive maximum bid after revealing his sponsor Motorhub had promised him an Audi R8 if he made one.

“I went for it in the last frame,” he said, “but it was only 17 in the end!”

World number three Ding Junhui was made to work for a 6-3 win over amateur Antony Parsons.

Ding has won the last three ranking events – the Shanghai Masters, the Indian Open and the International Championship in China – and surged into a 3-0 lead.

The Teesside warehouse worker cut the deficit to one but a 128 put Ding back on course and he finished the job.

The tournament format – all 128 players in an open draw, and a multi-table set-up with four in the secondary ’sports hall’ venue – again proved a talking point.

Shaun Murphy, who came from 3-0 down to beat local boy Paul Davison 6-3 with breaks of 75, 78, 80 and 65, said of the draw: “I think it’s the way snooker should have been designed years ago.

“If you’re on tour, you should have the same chance as anybody else, all this protection the top 16 have (enjoyed) for the last 20 years is a bit of a joke. I think finally snooker can count itself among the proper major sports.”

That view may not find favour with an angry Mark King, who lost 6-3 to Fergal O’Brien having been exiled to the sports hall.

“They talk about a ’level playing field’,” said the Braintree cueman, “What a load of crap.

“To be stuck in that back room, right by where the BBC are working – I was stepping on wires. It’s not good enough.

“As long as Ronnie’s okay, Neil’s okay, they don’t care. We all pay the same entry fee. It’s disgraceful.”

Ali Carter is thankful to have avoided a similar fate and said: “I haven’t even looked in there yet, and I don’t particularly want to – I hope my next match is in the main arena.”

Robertson, though, said: “I really don’t know what players are complaining about. That set-up is a lot better than a qualifying venue and you’re here amongst it, you feel part of it.

“I think it’s fine. The main arena was absolutely packed tonight – when does that ever happen in a first round?”

Carter beat Robertson’s namesake Jimmy 6-0 and has dropped only one frame ahead of a clash with Graeme Dott, who fought past Nigel Bond 6-5.

World Championship finalist Barry Hawkins trailed three times to China’s Zhang Anda before winning 6-3.

He will now face Gary Wilson, the Newcastle taxi driver who beat Vinnie Calabrese 6-3 and set the tournament high break with his final-frame 137.

David Morris, who almost quit the sport before the season, hammered former world champion Peter Ebdon 6-1 to add to the scalp of Jamie Cope.

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