It was a case of job done for five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as he cruised into the second round of the Betway UK Championship at the York Barbican.
The 43-year-old swept aside Irish amateur Ross Bulman 6-0 in his opening encounter at the first Triple Crown event of the season, notching a ton and four half-centuries en route to a comfortable victory.
But despite making light work of the first step to defending his title in Yorkshire, the London potter was impressed with his 18-year-old opponent’s effort on one of snooker’s most prestigious stages.
“It certainly wasn’t easy,” he said. “I don’t know much about the guy but he’s young and he’s a very good prospect.
“It was hard for him out there because it’s not easy getting used to the table and the conditions, and I definitely think we’ll be seeing a lot more of him at some point.
“I’m pleased to get through and even at this early stage there was a big crowd. It’s always nice when there are a lot of people cheering you on and I like to think I gave them value for money.”
O’Sullivan arrived at the UK Championship as one of the favourites to lift the trophy for what would be the eighth time, but acknowledged that current world champion Judd Trump could be among his fiercest competitors.
But with the professional tour brimming with talent, the Rocket believes it is too early to start talking about the final stages of the competition, and is instead focused on what he believes will be a tough test against China’s Tian Pengfei next.
He said: “At the moment Judd seems to be ahead of the pack. He’s the world champion; he’s world number one and the man in form, so he’s going to take some stopping.
“But there are still so many games to go and sport’s a funny thing. It can take one small mistake and you’re on your way home, and there are a lot of good players left that want to get their hands on the trophy.
“Tian’s a very good player, so it’s going to be a tough test and it should be a good game. China have a lot of good players but they need to start producing some winners because that’s what snooker’s all about.”