Snooker: Ronnie O'Sullivan eyes Crucible's big prize after keeping Ali Carter at arm's length

Champion leads 9-7 in last-16 tie as he aims to become first to retain Crucible title since 1996

The Crucible

Defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan remains on course for a successful title-defence here in Sheffield despite being pushed hard by Ali Carter in the penultimate session of their last-16 clash.

The "Rocket" returns tonight with a welcome 9-7 lead after Carter, his fellow Essex professional, forced the pace having trailed 5-3 overnight.

But despite Carter's spirited attempt to close the gap on O'Sullivan, it is the four-time world champion who is favourite to progress to the last eight.

And with five former world champions having already fallen by the wayside, O'Sullivan will fancy his chances of becoming the first player since Stephen Hendry, in 1996, to make a successful Crucible title-defence. O'Sullivan started with an 86 break to extend his lead, but Carter hit back with runs of 73 and 87.

But a fine 105 break – O'Sullivan's third century of the tournament – saw him edge 7-5 ahead at the interval. A confident Carter rallied following the resumption and pocketed breaks of 63 and 46 to level matters.

But O'Sullivan, who had looked decidedly shaky during the afternoon, held his nerve to restore a two-frame lead thanks to breaks of 73 and 86.

Victory for either player would yield a quarter-final meeting with either Stuart Bingham, from Basildon, or Hastings professional Mark Davis.

Meanwhile, Judd Trump, snooker's latest sensation, believes some players are jealous of his meteoric rise. The player nicknamed the "Juddernaut" has taken the sport by storm over the past two years having powered to three ranking titles and reached a string of finals.

The 23-year-old has pocketed close to £1m in prize-money and lucrative sponsorship deals, and it has not been to the liking of some of his fellow professionals. And so the Bristolian is determined to stay focused at this year's event. "I feel as though some people don't like the limelight I get," said Trump. "Some players say things about me, but it's the only way they can get some limelight. I just let my snooker do the talking."

Former world champion Neil Robertson accused Trump of being "fake", while other critics have privately voiced their concerns that the left-hander has become too big for his boots after his breakthrough success in reaching the 2011 world final.

Shaun Murphy, the 2005 world champion, suggested Trump's over-confidence this season had increased the pressure on him to be successful. "Having that air about you that you will win and it is just a question of turning up, that can put undue pressure on yourself," said Murphy.

"I'm sure he'd be the first to admit that, but he's had massive success over the last few years and ripped through the field at times. The way he scores it can be like a knife through butter."

But Trump, who faces Murphy in the Crucible quarter-finals tomorrow, is determined to silence his rivals and win the world title for the first time. "Shaun's got his own opinions, but I'm just concentrating on my own game," added Trump.

"Shaun doesn't know me so he wouldn't know what I do. I just go in with the same attitude towards every tournament. Whatever tournament I enter I'm fully prepared to win."

In yesterday's other match, Ding Junhui produced a spirited comeback to keep his world title hopes alive.

Ding, a former Masters and UK champion, resumed 6-2 down against Mark King after the opening session of their second-round match.

But the world No 9 hit back with runs of 59, 98, 74, 81 and 103 in battling back to lead 9-7. He returns today needing four frames for victory.

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before