I can win world title in my 50s, says O'Sullivan

Ronnie O'Sullivan playing a shot
Ronnie O'Sullivan has already won this season's other Triple Crown events, with victories at the UK Championship and Masters [PA Media]

Seven-time champion Ronnie O'Sullivan believes he is capable of winning a world title in his 50s after he thrashed Jackson Page 10-1 to reach the last 16 at the 2024 event.

O'Sullivan, 48, is already the oldest snooker world champion after winning in 2022, aged 46, and would need to lift the trophy again in 2026 or later to become the first winner aged 50 or over.

"I know the ability is there - it's just finding the right formula," O'Sullivan told BBC Two. "I've already broken the rules for snooker. I'm still going at 48, 49 and I'm seeing what's possible now.

"Can I win a World Championship at 50, who knows? I'm probably the only player able to do that but let's see, let's have an experiment."

O'Sullivan is aiming to win his eighth title and move clear of Stephen Hendry's mark of seven Crucible successes in the 1990s, and he began Thursday's play with an emphatic 8-1 lead over his 22-year-old opponent.

A break of 79 took O'Sullivan one frame away and he clinched victory soon after.

He will now play another Welsh player in Ryan Day, who defeated 15th seed Barry Hawkins 10-8 in Wednesday's evening session.

Last-16 matches are best of 25 frames, so first to 13, and the first session of O'Sullivan's match against Day will take place on Sunday (10:00 BST), with the match then resuming later that day at 19:00 before being played to a finish on Monday afternoon (14:30).

O'Sullivan's winning margin was the joint largest at this year's competition, matching Kyren Wilson's 10-1 victory over Dominic Dale.

'This tournament could be a procession for O'Sullivan'

Before the tournament, O'Sullivan said he did not consider himself the greatest snooker player of all time, but he was in more bullish mood after his victory.

"To do what I have done in this season, I have done over a whole career," he added. "I have been doing it for 30 years. I've had the greatest career of any snooker player.

"How many people can say they have been the best, or most successful, in their job ever? I have to really give myself a pat on the back because I don't, I am hard on myself. Nobody has achieved what I have achieved on a table statistically."

Hendry, speaking on BBC Two, feels O'Sullivan would benefit from a number of seeds being eliminated already, and could sweep through the tournament.

"I think this could be a procession, this World Championship. It looks like he's on it, the draw's opening up," said Hendry. "Ronnie always beats who he's supposed to beat when he's supposed to beat them. He gets to the winning line with not one hesitation.

"It's something you can't teach, you either have that or you don't. Two players in his half of the draw who have beaten him this season - Mark Williams and Zhang Anda - are both out. He has Judd Trump, possibly in the semis, who hasn't beaten him since 2020."

Page, the world number 43, added: "Ronnie has an aura around him and you feel it. He just puts you in positions that not many people can do - it's just a nightmare.

"Everyone knows he can pot and break build, all the players can do that, but his safety is probably the best on tour by far but because his break-building is so good, no-one sees it."

Higgins battles through to set up enticing match with Allen

John Higgins taking a shot
John Higgins is ranked 13th in the world, but set to drop outside of the top 16 unless he reaches the quarter-finals [Getty Images]

Four-time champion John Higgins battled to a hard-fought 10-6 win over Jamie Jones to set up an enticing last-16 match with world number three Mark Allen.

Higgins, 48, is 13th in the world but needs to reach the quarter-finals to stay in the world's top 16.

The 1998, 2007, 2009 and 2011 winner held a 5-4 lead at the end of the first session and stretched that to 7-4 and then 9-5. Jones got one back, and the 16th frame lasted more than 30 minutes as both had chances, but the veteran Scot sealed the win to progress.

His victory meant this World Championship did not set a new record for the most seeded players to be knocked out in the first round.

Eight of the top 16 - Luca Brecel, Mark Selby, Williams, Ding Junhui, Ali Carter, Gary Wilson, Zhang and Hawkins - all lost, matching the eight that fell in 1980, 1992 and 2012, but 13th seed Higgins avoided a similar fate.

"I've done OK. If somebody said at the start of my career you'll win four world titles I'd have bitten their hand off," said Higgins. "I am really enjoying it. It'll be a sad day when it leaves here.

"It means everything - it has been a massive part of my life. There'll be players like Mark Allen thinking 'I want to win it at the Crucible', but I have, so happy days."

The second round began on Thursday and world number two Judd Trump had breaks of 67, 52 and 69 as he took a 6-2 lead against 14th seed Tom Ford.

Trump needs seven more frames to advance into the quarter-finals and that match continues on Friday afternoon (14:30 BST).

The 16th seed, Robert Milkins, trails 5-3 against David Gilbert, who beat 2023 champion Brecel on the opening day.

Gilbert had opened up a three-frame advantage, aided by breaks of 50, 51 and 89, but Milkins stole the last frame 65-64 to cut his deficit to two frames.

That match resumes on Friday morning (10:00 BST) and concludes on Friday evening from 19:00 BST.