O'Sullivan draws qualifier for snooker bid

·1-min read

Ronnie O'Sullivan will open the defence of his World Snooker Championship title against debutant Mark Joyce at the Crucible.

Veteran Joyce, 37, turned professional in 2006, but had never previously made it through to the showpiece tournament, securing his place with victory over Brazil's Igor Figueiredo in the last qualifying round.

Australian Neil Robertson is viewed as a leading contender to win a second world title following an impressive campaign so far - beating O'Sullivan in the Tour Championship final - and will take on Liang Wenbo.

Elsewhere in Thursday's draw, former champion Stuart Bingham, another who came through qualifying, will meet China's Ding Junhui, while world No.1 Judd Trump plays Liam Highfield.

The 2021 tournament begins on Saturday and will see fans return to the Crucible as part of the Government pilot programme following the easing of lockdown restrictions in England.

Organisers hope to be able to have a capacity crowd attend the final, which is set for the last two days, with the winner on May 3 in line for a PS500,000 ($A900,000) top prize.