By Shamoon Hafez
BBC Sport at the York Barbican
Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan ruthlessly dispatched China’s Tian Pengfei with his second successive 6-0 win to reach the third round of the UK Championship in York.
O’Sullivan cruised past teenager Ross Bulman in 66 minutes on Thursday.
And the record seven-time champion took another routine victory on Saturday.
Former two-time champions Neil Robertson and Mark Selby both progressed to the last-32 with comfortable victories.
Australia’s Robertson made a high break of 101 as defeated Robbie Williams 6-4, while Englishman Selby was in high scoring form with knocks of 129, 80, 62, 61 and 50 helping him beat Liam Highfield 6-3.
Meanwhile, there were wins for 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham, who beat Martin Gould 6-4, Wales’ Matthew Stevens, who beat Ryan Day 6-5, and last year’s runner up Mark Allen, who survived a scare to edge past Jak Jones 6-5.
Rocket matches Davis UK wins record
O’Sullivan, 43, made breaks of 106 and 71 on Saturday and will face Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham next.
The world number two will move to a record 37 ranking titles if he triumphs in York.
The Rocket is currently level with Stephen Hendry’s haul of 36. He is also the only player to compile more than 1,000 career centuries and has more Triple Crown event wins than anyone else.
O’Sullivan’s recent record at the Barbican Centre is remarkable, having won 29 of his 30 matches at the venue since 2014, lifting the trophy in the past two years having been beaten in the 2016 final by Mark Selby.
He described York as his “favourite city in the UK”, adding: “I love the coffee shops here, it’s great to be able to go and relax, get my computer out and study the things I’m interested in and enjoy the surroundings, which is important.”
Asked about his two whitewashes, O’Sullivan, who lost 9-7 to Judd Trump in the Northern Ireland Open final earlier this month, said: “If I’d beaten John Higgins and Judd Trump 6-0 you’d say it was amazing but no disrespect to my first opponent – he’s a rookie on tour and really looked like he was struggling.
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“I was pleased to get through today, felt sorry for Tian, he didn’t get much going and it’s always horrible to see a good friend struggling.
“It takes me three, possibly four tournaments to get going, so by the time I start the season most of the guys have already played seven or eight tournaments.
“I’m always playing catch-up in terms of when I hit my optimum level, but to be at this stage now I feel like I’m into the season and my game is where it can be.”
The victory over world number 65 Tian means O’Sullivan has won a total of 89 matches at the UK Championship, drawing him level with six-time champion Steve Davis.
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