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O'Sullivan eases past Milkins to reach quarter-finals

ESPN staff
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Ronnie O'Sullivan encountered no problems on his way to victory over Robert Milkins © PA Photos
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Ronnie O'Sullivan wasted no time in beginning his quest for a fifth Masters title, seeing off Robert Milkins 6-1 in their first round match at Alexandra Palace on Tuesday.

O'Sullivan got off to a flying start in North London with a 48 break to seize control in the opening frame. The world champion soon saw it out to take the lead.

Milkins responded in the second frame and moved into a comfortable lead with a neat 49. However, a superb 84 from the 'Rocket' quickly made it a two-frame advantage for the Essex man, before more nerves struck his opponent in the third.

An easy red passed Milkins by and O'Sullivan was quick to pounce; a run of 42 helped make it three frames on the spin and another superb visit of 91 ensured a four-nil lead at the mid-session interval.

Things did not slow down for the 2009 champion after the break as visits of 62 and 59 wrapped up the fifth frame; Rolling Stones star Ronnie Wood and Damien Hirst were present in the Ally Pally crowd to watch good friend O'Sullivan cruise to victory.

Milkins made sure a whitewash was avoided as he capitalised on a rare error from O'Sullivan to take the sixth frame, but the four-time winner put things right again in the seventh to complete victory and set up a quarter-final tie with Barry Hawkins of Ricky Walden.

"It was Rob's first appearance at the Masters and a big match for him because there's a lot of pressure out there," O'Sullivan told Worldsnooker.com. "This is one of the events you dream of playing in. He's a good player so I'm pleased to get the win.

"I played too much snooker at the end of last year and got a bit sick of looking at a table. I lost my competitive juices so it has been a welcome break for me for the last few weeks. It's better for me to play a couple of tournaments then have a month off because as you get older you struggle to get up for every match.

"It's alright when you're younger because everything is new and fresh and exciting but when you've been around for 20 years, you tend to go through the motions a bit, and you can't afford to do that at this level.

"Damien [Hirst] has been in my corner for a long time. He gets me and understands how challenging this game can be, and gives me a lot of support. And it was brilliant for Ronnie to come because I hadn't seen him for ages. We all had a good night out - it gets a bit boring sitting in and watching Big Brother."

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