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Difficult starts for O'Sullivan and Selby


By Robert Jones

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Mark Selby were handed tough opening assignments for the Betfred World Championship yesterday.

Both will need to be sharp on the opening weekend after five-time champion O'Sullivan was paired with Stephen Maguire and title holder Selby landed a first-round clash with Joe Perry.

Antrim's Mark Allen, who, of course, clinched the Masters title earlier in the season, will be up against Liam Highfield with their match getting under way on Sunday morning.

Maguire and Perry have reached the semi-finals at The Crucible before, although both have fallen out of the top 16 so had to come through qualifying to reach the main draw this time.

The tournament got off to a bad start when the draw was delayed by two hours due to technical difficulties, meaning it took place at midday.

The action starts tomorrow, with Selby a 10am starter and title favourite O'Sullivan beginning his campaign in the afternoon session.

The seeds were paired with the 16 players who clinched their places by winning through three qualifying rounds.

Judd Trump was given an opener against debutant Chris Wakelin. John Higgins, a four-time winner of the tournament, will start against Thailand's Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, another newcomer to snooker's most famous venue.

Draw: Mark Selby v Joe Perry; Mark Allen v Liam Highfield; Kyren Wilson v Matthew Stevens; Shaun Murphy v Jamie Jones; John Higgins v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh; Stuart Bingham v Jack Lisowski; Luca Brecel v Ricky Walden; Judd Trump v Chris Wakelin; Ding Junhui v Xiao Guodong; Anthony McGill v Ryan Day; Marco Fu v Lyu Haotian; Barry Hawkins v Stuart Carrington; Mark Williams v Jimmy Robertson; Neil Robertson v Robert Milkins; Ali Carter v Graeme Dott; Ronnie O'Sullivan v Stephen Maguire.

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