Ronnie O’Sullivan made light work of his Championship League group as he roared back to the green baize for the first time since February.
The five-time world champion hasn’t played since crashing out of the Snooker Shoot Out to Billy-Joe Castle back at the start of the year.
O’Sullivan looked to be revitalised at Milton Keynes’ Marshall Arena, sweeping aside Chris Wakelin, Michael Georgiou and Welshman Kishan Hirani without conceding a frame.
The tournament sees 64 players take part making up 16 groups of four. From Tuesday, the 16 group winners will be split into four more groups, with those winners playing off in one final group stage on June 11.
Ronnie joined the likes of Judd Trump, Ryan Day, Liang Wenbo and Gary Wilson in the round of 16, with Stuart Bingham and Neil Robertson still to enter the fray.
The 44-year-old made light work of Hirani in the first match of yesterday’s proceedings. The Rocket knocked in a devastating 112 in the very first frame with the writing on the wall from the outset.
If O’Sullivan was impressive against Hirani, he was poetry in motion in his second game against Georgiou.
After setting the tone with a 116 break in the first frame, the ambidextrous cueist rattled in 82 and 80 to seal another whitewash victory.
In the group’s final game he played Wakelin. The Nuneaton-based potter had looked in decent form himself throughout the day.
O’Sullivan took a scrappy first frame 73-13, before getting back into his stride with knocks of 97 and 93, ensuring a comfortable passage into the last 16.
Barry Hearn recently delighted players and supporters of the sport by announcing the World Championships will still take place this season.
The 17-day snooker extravaganza will roll into Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre on Friday 31st July, with the final day earmarked for Sunday 16th August.
O’Sullivan hasn’t tasted success in South Yorkshire since 2013 when he defeated Barry Hawkins 18-12 to sit on top of the world for the fifth time.
Since that memorable day, O’Sullivan has watched the likes of Mark Selby, Mark Williams and last season Judd Trump, get their hands on the game’s ultimate prize.
Ronnie gives out a bravado that says he isn’t really bothered what he achieves for the rest of his career.
You can bet that if he only won two more titles during the rest of his career, he’d choose to reign supreme at the top of the world; drawing level with nineties great Stephen Hendry on seven world championships.
At 44, Ronnie showed yesterday that he is showing positive signs and that the break might have actually done him good.
Although he was lethal yesterday, he will be under no illusions that bigger challenges are on the horizon.
His break building was sublime yesterday and if he maintains such a standard heading into Sheffield, the rest of the field had better watch out.
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