White wins after non-vintage show

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The Independent Online

Jimmy White put his pre-tournament worries behind him in Sheffield yesterday as he made an encouraging start to his Embassy World Championship campaign by concluding a 10-2 first-round victory over the South African, Peter Francisco.

However, White's success was overshadowed last night by allegations of betting irregularities that were being investigated by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association.

Whatever the circumstances, it was not vintage White, and he admitted: "I was too relaxed. I haven't been able to grab much practice since I came to Sheffield, but I've got nearly a week off now and I'll be putting in four or five hours a day."

White's best effort was just 68 in the third frame during Saturday's opening session. That helped him to an overnight 7-2 lead over the world No 61, Francisco, and yesterday afternoon he added breaks of 59 and 35 to put the result beyond doubt.

After his recent cancer scare and an operation to remove a testicle, any win is a bonus for the 32-year-old Londoner. "It's been a bit of a nightmare recently, but that's all behind me now," said White, who came close to taking the title last year before losing 18-17 to Stephen Hendry.

Ronnie O'Sullivan launched his campaign with an emphatic 10-3 success against Dave Harold, having led 7-2 overnight.

O'Sullivan claimed there was plenty of room for improvement and stressed: "I am scoring heavily enough but my safety play isn't up to scratch. I am not finding the back cushion with the cue ball. Against players like Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White, who go for their shots, I could get punished."

The 19-year-old from Chigwell laid the foundation for victory on Saturday and he quickly added the three frames needed from his overnight 7-2 lead. He tried to finish in style, making another attack on the £147,000 prize for a maximum 147 beak. "You've got to go for the max. That prize is a blinding incentive," he said. "There are a lot of matches when I think I can't get beat - and that's when I make hard work of winning."