Anthony McGill prevails to set up Crucible clash against Ronnie O’Sullivan

A SCINTILLATING display saw Anthony McGill set up a mouth-watering World Snooker Championship second-round clash with six-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan on a day where the sport’s organisers were forced to defend the sight of a sparsely attended Crucible Theatre.

Anthony McGill uses the rest during his match against Ricky Walden at The Crucible on Monday. Picture: George Wood/PA

2020 semi-finalist McGill’s first-round contest with Ricky Walden looked destined for a close finish with the Scot leading just 5-4 overnight but he produced a majestic display last night to secure a 10-5 triumph.

The 16th seed smashed in breaks of 83, 130, 69 and 58 to clinch a convincing win and a similar performance in the last 16 could cause big problems for reigning champion O’Sullivan, who looked unconvincing in parts of his own first-round victory over Mark Joyce.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Meanwhile, John Higgins was on the verge of completing a fightback to avoid a shock first-round exit.

John Higgins contemplates his next shot during his match against Tian Pengfei at The Crucible. Picture: George Wood/PA

Four-time world champion Higgins saw an overnight 4-3 deficit extended to 7-4 by China’s world No.52 Tian Pengfei before he dug deep to claim five frames on the spin, including a sublime break of 127, to move within one of victory at 9-7.

However, the duo were pulled off the table before being able to complete the match, with the game scheduled to be finished after yesterday’s night session.

And snooker’s organisers were forced to defend a Crucible attendance crisis, with only 83 tickets sold for the morning.

Restrictions on hotel and restaurant use, as well as the stringent Covid safety measures in place to even enter the venue, appear to have put fans off.

A spokesman for World Snooker Tour said: “The numbers later in the event are much bigger, with some sessions over the coming weekend and final close to asell-out.

Watch the World Snooker Championship live on Eurosport and Eurosport app from April 17- May 3

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.