Ronnie O’Sullivan opens up at Crucible against in-form David Gilbert

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  • Betfred World Championship first-round draw: • Stuart Bingham v Ali Carter • Stephen Maguire v Alan McManus • Ricky Walden v Robbie Williams • John Higgins v Ryan Day • Judd Trump v Liang Wenbo • Martin Gould v Ding Junhui • Mark Williams v Graeme Dott • Neil Robertson v Michael Holt • Shaun Murphy v Anthony McGill • Marco Fu v Peter Ebdon • Barry Hawkins v Zhang Anda • Ronnie O’Sullivan v David Gilbert • Mark Allen v Mitchell Mann • Joe Perry v Kyren Wilson • Michael White v Sam Baird • Mark Selby v Robert Milkins
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Ronnie O’Sullivan will launch his bid for a sixth Betfred World Championship title against Tamworth’s David Gilbert.

Former potato farmer Gilbert, 34, is enjoying the best season of his career and was a runner-up at the International Championship in China in November.

The Tamworth man secured his place in the main draw for Sheffield with victory over Jack Lisowski in the final qualifying round on Wednesday.

O’Sullivan, 40, is the favourite for the Crucible title, having already triumphed at the Masters and Welsh Open this year.

Their clash will start on Sunday.

Defending champion Stuart Bingham begins his challenge on Saturday with a tough opener against two-time beaten finalist Ali Carter.

Other highlights of the first-round draw include the all-Scottish clash of Stephen Maguire and Alan McManus, Judd Trump’s match against Liang Wenbo and a repeat of last year’s quarter-final between Shaun Murphy and Anthony McGill.

Four-time champion John Higgins plays Ryan Day first, Mark Selby tackles Robert Milkins, while China’s former world number one Ding Junhui, who was widely considered the qualifier best avoided, was handed a tie against Martin Gould.

Former world champions Mark Williams and Graeme Dott go head to head.

The only debutant in this year’s tournament, Birmingham’s Mitchell Mann, will play former semi-finalist Mark Allen.

Mark Selby won the title for the second time by beating Ronnie OSullivan in the final last year

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