World Championship 2017: Ronnie O'Sullivan pegged back by Gary Wilson
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 22/04/17 12:45pm
Ronnie O'Sullivan was given a rocky ride by former taxi driver Gary Wilson as the Rocket began his bid for a sixth Betfred World Championship title.
Wallsend cueman Wilson is making his Crucible debut after coming through the qualifying rounds in dazzling style, firing eight centuries over three matches including a 147 maximum break.
And while O'Sullivan looked en route for the second round when he surged 5-1 ahead, Wilson plotted his way back into the contest to trail only 5-4 overnight.
Until now, Wilson has been as well known for his flamboyant mohawk hairstyles as for his snooker, although he did reached the China Open final two years ago.
The hair is all shaved off in Sheffield, with Wilson meaning business, and he was excited to draw O'Sullivan rather than overawed.
Wilson turned to driving taxis when the early years of his chosen career proved a struggle, but better recent fortunes have seen him able to concentrate on snooker.
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Early breaks of 57, 58, 63, a second 58 and 122 suggested O'Sullivan was playing well in building his four-frame cushion, but he was pegged back by a man on a mission.
O'Sullivan benefited from a huge slice of luck in the sixth frame, when 39 behind with only 35 points left on the table. Wilson flicked the knuckle of the middle pocket from a safety shot and the white deflected tight along the cushion and into the yellow pocket. O'Sullivan cleared up to level the scores and sank the re-spotted black to open a 5-1 lead.
But what could have been a shattering blow instead appeared to galvanise Wilson, who replied with 64 in taking the next frame and then 63 to cut O'Sullivan's lead further.
A 63 from O'Sullivan put the 41-year-old seemingly in charge of the next, but he missed a red he would have expected to sink and back came Wilson, potting a tricky black to snatch the frame and fuel his confidence before the best-of-19-frame contest concludes on Sunday afternoon.
There was disappointment for reigning champion Mark Selby in the opening round, but only because his 10-2 win over Fergal O'Brien had not finished in a rare Crucible whitewash.
Selby led 8-0 and was on his way to only the second whitewash in tournament history, the only so far having come when John Parrott beat Eddie Charlton 10-0 in 1992.
But O'Brien won the ninth frame and picked up a second before Selby was able to secure victory with plenty in hand.
Selby said: "I was gutted not to come out 9-0 after the first session, knowing there'd only been one whitewash here and it'd be nice to get another one. No disrespect to Fergal who's a great guy, but at 8-1 I was devastated when he won that frame.
"I'll get on the practice table over the next few days and go and then go and watch Leicester (in the Champions League) on Tuesday night against Atletico Madrid - hopefully they can get through."
Stephen Maguire overwhelmed his fellow Scot Anthony McGill, also 10-2, ending a winless run in Sheffield that dated back to his 2012 quarter-final victory over seven-time champion Stephen Hendry.
Hendry retired that night, and Maguire went on to lose to Ali Carter in the semi-finals, before enduring four consecutive first-round exits at the Crucible, three of them by a spirit-crushing 10-9 margin.
This time Maguire exacted revenge for his defeat to McGill at the same stage two years ago, and did so in devastating fashion.
In the seven-frame burst that took him from 2-2 to 9-2, Maguire limited McGill to just one point while plundering 547 himself.