Ronnie O’Sullivan has had a week off since he played his last match. Then again, he’s had a year off since he played his last major tournament so it’s unlikely to make much difference.
However, the World Championship becomes more of a test when you get up to best of 25 frame matches. There is time for things to happen, time for things to go wrong and, crucially, time for the pressure to come on.
As Shaun Murphy said last night, this is why you play snooker, for experiences like this.
Carter’s long game was excellent in his first round match against Ben Woollaston. He has never beaten O’Sullivan in a big event but this represents one of the best chances he will get.
He has drawn Ronnie twice in a final, when anyone would find it hard to beat him over four sessions. So early in the tournament, though, where there are still nerves and some uncertainty about the strength of his game, and this is unlikely to be an O’Sullivan procession.
In fact, it has the potential to be one of the matches of the tournament.
There is always anticipation when O’Sullivan plays and sometimes awe. I remember standing in the photographer’s booth at the Crucible watching the third session of his semi-final against Stephen Hendry in 1999, possibly the highest quality session there has ever been at snooker’s theatre of dreams.
These two players served up a remarkable spell of break building, O’Sullivan missing the pink on 134 in one frame. It’s sessions like these which keep you coming back for more.
We haven’t seen the same quality this year. Some players clearly aren’t happy with conditions. At the qualifiers there was talk that the balls are too light, a possible reason for kicks.
However, we also saw yesterday that the Crucible carpet produces static electricity. If Graeme Dott was getting shocks, it isn’t too much of a stretch to assume that this is also causing dodgy contacts.
We’re not even halfway through the World Championship yet but the subplots are bubbling along nicely.
Michael White, at 21, is in the quarter-finals on his debut. Again, there was much chatter about his opponent but White’s achievement is notable and he is in such an open section that a semi-final place is very possible.
Murphy won a snooker war of attrition to see off Dott last night. His 13-11 win was gripping in the way these lengthy World Championship matches so often are.
You can’t beat a close finish when everything is at stake.