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Back 3/1 O’Sullivan for World Championships after spot-on return

On his first professional outing since September last year defending World Snooker Champion Ronnie Sullivan gave his supporters much to be hopeful about with a 10-4 win over world number 26 Marcus Campbell. With further improvement surely to come, Coral make the “Rocket” 3/1 favourite in the World Snooker Championships betting, despite the fact that he must play last year’s final opponent Ali Carter in the second round.

Considering it was O’Sullivan’s first competitive outing since his victory in the final of this venerable tournament last term, it would have been fair to expect some rustiness form the mercurial Essex cueman. However for the most part he was clinical against Campbell, killing eight of his 10 frames with breaks of 50 or over.

Despite hitting only one century during the opening round game, the O’Sullivan’s scoring seemed to be coming to the boil nicely, with five frames dispensed with via breaks of 80 or more.

Ronnie’s second round clash with Ali Carter is easily the toughest hand dealt to any of the leading seeds at this year’s tournament, with only the match with Ricky Walden – a ruthless 10-1 victor in his first round clash against world number 25 Michael Holt – that awaits third seed Neil Robertson (if he defeats Robert Milkins) coming close.

However the “Essex Exocet’s” record against trained pilot “Captain” Carter is all the more reason to back him now before his price deteriorates. The Carter clash serves as a huge step up in just O’Sullivan’s second match back, but he has a huge 15-1 edge in the pair’s career head-to-heads, with Carter yet to get within six frames of him in their three clashes over the best of 25 frames or longer.

Should he get past Carter as expected , the draw opens up like the proverbial springtime blossom for the defending champion, with a quarter final berth against either Stuart Bingham or Mark Davis looking winnable.

The semi final on his side of the draw will an intriguing one for a player with motivations as opaque the “Rocket” should he make it through with potential top five seed opponents Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy both outspoken critics of O’Sullivan in the past.

Of the pair Murphy would undoubtedly be the choice draw for the number one seed having won just two of 10 clashes against him. The “Juddernator” would represent a tougher challenge – holding a 5-4 winning head-to-head record against O’Sullivan – but Trump is not in the best of nick this term having only made the last 32 of his past three tournaments.