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Ronnie O’Sullivan has tried to play down expectations of a third successive world crown, and sixth in total, after he saw off Robin Hull in the first round of the Dafabet World Snooker Championships.
The top seed and strong tournament favourite was not at the peak of his powers in his opening win against the Finnish world number 122, who was playing for only the second time at the Crucible.
Hull, who came out of retirement following illness in 2011, lost in the first round in 2002 and never looked like bettering that record as O’Sullivan breezed into a 7-2 lead.
There was a brief revival from Hull in the evening session after he reduced the deficit to 8-4 but ‘The Rocket’ secured a safe passage by winning the next two frames.
It was perhaps not the most clinical or impressive performance from O’Sullivan and will hardly have struck fear into his rivals, but the result was obviously the most important thing.
The 2014 Masters champion now of course has one less round to negotiate but was keen to play down the fact that many are expecting him to lift the trophy once again, and join Steve Davis and Ray Reardon with six world titles.
“I’m just pleased to have got through,” O’Sullivan said.
“I don’t really see there’s a massive expectation on me,” he added. “I’m just here to do a job and I go about it as professionally as I can. There’s one out of the way and I just move on to the next.”