Ronnie O’Sullivan landed himself in trouble with snooker chiefs yesterday but did avoid joining the growing list of Crucible winners to crash out of the Betfred World Championship.
All nine world champions from this century, since Mark Williams lifted the trophy in 2000, were among the 32 players competing at the Crucible.
But three crashed out on the opening weekend – defending champion Stuart Bingham, 2005 winner Shaun Murphy and Peter Ebdon (2002) – before 2006 winner Graeme Dott exited yesterday.
Five-time winner O’Sullivan never looked in danger of being the fifth world champion to leave Sheffield yesterday, completing a routine 10-7 win over qualifier David Gilbert.
But afterwards, O’Sullivan – no stranger to run-ins with snooker’s governing body – refused to be interviewed by the BBC, and snubbed the post-match media conference.
The 40-year-old could now be fined, World Snooker confirming he will face disciplinary procedures.
“All players have a responsibility to the sport, and in particular to their fans,” said a statement.
“This includes fulfilling media obligations at events. Any players found to be in breach of these rules will be referred to the disciplinary process.”
O’Sullivan returned with a 6-3 overnight lead in the best-of-19 contest, but Gilbert took the opening frame with breaks of 60 and 62. It should have been 6-5, but the Tamworth potter missed a red to the centre on a 41 break and O’Sullivan nipped in.
The Essex cueman fired in a 101 break to move 8-4 ahead, but Gilbert cut the deficit by winning the next two frames.
Gilbert had a chance to make it 8-7, when O’Sullivan slumped over the table, after missing the brown on a 29 break, but failed to profit, with his opponent’s 51 break enough to make it 9-6.
Gilbert hit back to move within two, but a 72 clearance in the next frame was enough for O’Sullivan.
“That is probably the best I’ll ever play without winning a game of snooker,” said Gilbert.
“There’s not a lot you can worry about when you play against Ronnie because you just expect to get punished every time something doesn’t go your way.”
Williams, who last lifted the world title in 2003, beat Dott 10-4.
Four-time champion John Higgins leads Ryan Day 7-2, with their match resuming today.