Richard Mann looks ahead to Ronnie O'Sullivan's second-round clash with Ali Carter and is predicting a few fireworks from the heavy-scoring pair.
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Ronnie O'Sullivan continues his quest for a sixth world title when he takes on Ali Carter in the second round of the World Snooker Championship on Friday morning.
The Rocket has enjoyed a stellar season to date, winning five ranking titles, and is now 6/4 to join the great Steve Davis on six Crucible victories.
With Mark Selby out of the equation, O’Sullivan will surely fancy his chances of going all the way in Sheffield for the first time since 2013.
The Rocket won’t be taking Carter lightly, however, given he was made to work very hard by Stephen Maguire in round one.
The Scot would have been hopeful of causing a major upset when leading 6-3 at the end of the first session but O’Sullivan returned the following morning in much better form and produced a fabulous display of snooker to win seven out of the eight frames.
O’Sullivan seemed in good spirits afterwards and has had a good few days off before this match, which he is 1/7 to win.
It is hard to see Carter getting much change out of O’Sullivan but he came through a tough test against Graeme Dott in his opening match and will have been buoyed by the form he produced in the second session having trailed 6-2 at one point.
Carted reeled off two centuries in his 10-8 victory, along with six other 50-plus contributions, and will know he needs to score heavily again if he is to compete with the Rocket.
With O’Sullivan’s own break-building – he's now approaching 1,000 competitive career centuries – remaining in fine working order, plenty of big breaks could be in the offing and the 8/11 on offer for over 3.5 total match centuries appears very fair.
The winner will face either Mark Williams or Robert Milkins in the quarter-finals.
Williams continued his excellent season when easing past Jimmy Robertson 10-5 in round one while Milkins registered one of the biggest wins of his career when knocking out former champion Neil Robertson.
Williams is 2/11 to go through but Milkins is playing better than those odds suggest and he should at least keep the Welshman honest.