There are still those who insist the game is bigger then any one player and indeed they are correct to a certain extent,but no one can deny that the almost unprecedented level of coverage this years event has generated is down to one thing and that is the return of Ronnie.The question most people were asking though was how he would perform after almost twelve monthes out?
We didn't have to wait too long for an answer to that question as with his first scoring chance he rolled in a sweet break of 82 to go ahead 1-0.Campbell won the second but two superb clearances of 62 & 71 from Ronnie saw him go into the interval 3-1 ahead.
Campbell must have been sitting in his dressing room wondering how he was behind as he had played pretty good stuff in the opening four frames,but things were soon to go from bad to worse as Ronnies lead became 5-1.Campbell did win the next to close to 5-2 but Ronnie closed out the morning session winning the last two to lead 7-2 going into the evening session.
Coming out to resume this evening Ronnie seemed determined to get this over with quickly,He quickly made it 8-2 with a break of 102 and that became 9-2 with a run of 90.Campbell to his credit wasn't going to roll over and he managed to take to match to its midsession interval winning the next two to close the gap to 9-4.There was to be no shock comeback though and Ronnie closed it out in the next to record a comfortable 10-4 win.
In a very interesting post match press conference the hinted that his sabbatical from the game was down to some bad advice he had received about hos contract and that if he had just chatted to Barry Hearn first he might not have taken a break at all.Whatever the full story is,he has promised we can read all about it in new book which is to be published later in the year.We'll just have to wait and see.
Of course of more immediate concern is what did todays victory tell us about the state of his game?Well one thing we did learn for sure is that his touch,among the balls is a good a ever but that also his all round game will need to tighten up if he is to progress further into this tournament,Having said that he will be satisfied to have got this one out of the way and to borrow a phrase from horse racing he will certainly come on for the run.
Apart from Ronnie we did have four other matches begin today so here is a brief round up.
Ricky Walden has never won a match on his previous two visits to The Crucible.but that is surely going to change here as he leads Michael Holt 8-1 after this mornings session.Walden did play well here and set an early high break target thans to a run of 140 but he was greatly helped by a poor display from Holt.This one plays to a finish in the morning but surly the result is a foregone conclusion
In the afternoon we had the much talked about debut of Jack Lisowski as he faced off against Barry Hawkins.Big thins are expected of Lisowski in the coming years but this was always going to be a test for him against Hawkins,who has already won a ranking title this season and so it proved.The young man did make the perfect start with an 82 in the first and really should have gone ahead 2-1 but a missed red with the rest cost him dearly and he also lost the next to trail 3-1 at the interval.
Lisowski did manage to join the exclusive club to make a century on their Crucible debut when he compiled a break of exactly 100 in the next but it was Hawkins.who was in the ascendancy and winning the next three to stretch his lead to 6-2.Lisowski did win the last of the session to keep himself just about in touch at 6-3 but will need to produce something special when they resume tomorrow night.
In a match that always looked like it could be a close one Shaun Murphy holds a slender 5-4 advantage over Martin Gould.Guld got off to the better start here taking the opening two before Murphy found his stride to make it 2-2.Murphy won the next to go 3-2 but Gould leveled again at 3-3.Murphy won the next two to go 5-3 but Gould again responded to take the last of the session to set up a grand stand finish tomorrow night.
Finally we had an all Welsh encounter when former two time champion Mark Williams faced another debutant Michael White. If White was feeling any nerves early on he certainly wasn't showing then and having taken the opening frame in one visit he went on to establish a 3-1 interval lead.That became 4-1 and a shock seemed to be on the cards but Williams showing all his experience won the next three to force his way back into this and level at 4-4. The final frame could have gone either way,but it was White who held his nerve to claim it and finish a session that both player will be happy with leading 5-4.They play to a finish tomorrow afternoon.
So one day down and 16 to go.After all the fuss Ronnie can go home and relax until his second round match begins next Saturday and we can look forward to tomorrow with the conclusion of all the above matches as well as the start of the Dott v Ebdon and Higgins v M Davis clashes.