• World Championship

O'Sullivan draws Ebdon-conqueror Hull

ESPN staff
April 17, 2014
Ronnie O'Sullivan is aiming for a sixth world crown © PA Photos

Ronnie O'Sullivan will begin the defence of his World Championship title against the lowest ranked player of the tournament when he faces Robin Hull in the first round at the Crucible on Saturday.

O'Sullivan avoided a clash that would have been far from desirable for the five-time champion; Hull will return to the event for the first time since 2002 having beaten Peter Ebdon 10-8 in the final qualifying round in Sheffield on Thursday. The world No.122 retired from the sport in 2008 with a heart complaint, but returned three years later.

Known for his meticulous, slower style of play, Ebdon has often frustrated opposing players with his pace around the table- Judd Trump criticised Ebdon following a five-hour match at the Australian Open in July 2012, in which the 2002 world champion narrowly edged past Ding Junhui.

Despite describing Ebdon as a "nice guy" and "lovely fella" in his second autobiography Running, O'Sullivan always had concerns about playing him; he revealed their 2012 quarter-final at the Crucible, which Ebdon won, had been "torture" and made him "scratch his forehead until he drew blood."

However, along with Steve Davis, Mark Williams, Jimmy White and Graeme Dott, Ebdon has failed to qualify for 2014 and misses the tournament for the first time since turning professional.

O'Sullivan has long worked with Dr Steve Peters and has credited the psychologist for helping him cope with playing against slower players.

World Championship first round draw (seeded players on the left):

Ronnie O'Sullivan v Robin Hull
Joe Perry v Jamie Burnett
Marco Fu v Martin Gould
Shaun Murphy v Jamie Cope
Barry Hawkins v David Gilbert
Ricky Walden v Kyren Wilson
Mark Davis v Dominic Dale
Ding Junhui v Michael Wasley
Mark Selby v Michael White
Ali Carter v Xiao Guodong
John Higgins v Alan McManus
Stuart Bingham v Ken Doherty
Judd Trump v Tom Ford
Stephen Maguire v Ryan Day
Mark Allen v Michael Holt
Neil Robertson v Robbie Williams

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