O'Sullivan to open against Hull; Doherty faces Bingham

Ronnie O’Sullivan will launch the defence of his Dafabet World Championship title against Finland’s Robin Hull on Saturday morning.

Ronnie O’Sullivan will launch the defence of his Dafabet World Championship title against Finland’s Robin Hull on Saturday morning.

Dubliner Ken Doherty, who had to come through a qualifier to take part, was handed a testing game against England's Stuart Bingham.

The draw in London this lunchtime handed Hull the daunting task of facing the tournament favourite, who will be targeting his sixth world title in Sheffield.

Hull, 39, gave up snooker for three years from 2008 due to a life-threatening virus but has returned, playing sporadically but well enough during the qualifying stages over the past fortnight to earn his second shot at Crucible snooker.

He also got through to the main draw in 2002 and on Wednesday night beat that year’s champion, Peter Ebdon, in the final preliminary round.

O’Sullivan has won the last two world titles and is also the reigning Masters and Welsh Open champion.

Of the other likely contenders, China’s Ding Junhui will begin his bid for a record sixth ranking title in the same season by playing English qualifier Michael Wasley.

Another English qualifier, Robbie Williams, starts against Australia’s 2010 champion Neil Robertson.

Alan McManus landed the draw he wanted as the veteran Scot, who knocked out two-time world champion Mark Williams in the preliminary rounds, was paired with compatriot and four-time champion John Higgins.

Judd Trump starts against Leicester’s Tom Ford, Mark Selby has a testing-looking opener against Welsh youngster Michael White, who reached the quarter-finals last year, and 2013 runner-up Barry Hawkins was handed an opener against David Gilbert.

Draw for the first round of the Dafabet World Championship, starting on Saturday at the Crucible:

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Robin Hull

Joe Perry v Jamie Burnett

Shaun Murphy v Jamie Cope

Marco Fu v Martin Gould

Barry Hawkins v David Gilbert

Ricky Walden v Kyren Wilson

Mark Davis v Dominic Dale

Ding Junhui v Michael Wasley

Mark Selby v Michael White

Ali Carter v Xiao Guodong

John Higgins v Alan McManus

Stuart Bingham v Ken Doherty

Judd Trump v Tom Ford

Stephen Maguire v Ryan Day

Mark Allen v Michael Holt

Neil Robertson v Robbie Williams

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