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Masters 2018: Ronnie O'Sullivan aims for eighth win

From BBC - January 12, 2018

Defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan is aiming to win the Masters for an eighth time, with the tournament of the top 16 players beginning on Sunday.

O'Sullivan, 42, clinched a record-breaking seventh success last January with a 10-7 victory over Joe Perry in the final at London's Alexandra Palace.

Hong Kong's Marco Fu plays O'Sullivan in the first round on Tuesday.

Each match will be shown on the BBC and world champion Mark Selby faces Mark Williams in Sunday's opening game.

"Mark was one of the players I wanted to avoid in the draw because he has been playing well," said Selby, who beat Welshman Williams 6-5 in the first round in 2017. "We had a great match in the first round last year and I am sure it will be the same this time.

"Alexandra Palace is one of the best venues on the circuit and all the players strive to play in the big tournaments in front of big crowds."

Northern Ireland's Mark Allen also plays on the opening day, against Belgium's Luca Brecel, who will be making his debut in the competition.

O'Sullivan has won the English Open, Shanghai Masters and UK Championship since October and three-time Masters winner Steve Davis, who will be part of the BBC commentary team, feels O'Sullivan is becoming "the ultimate player."

"He's an even more complete, mature player than he has been in the past," Davis told World Snooker. "It's astonishing to think that even into his 40s, he's still the most feared player.

"He's got a B game which can win events, and very few players can do that. The other players are fearful of what Ronnie can achieve when he's at the top of his game, and they know they have to produce their best.

"He could become the first to win a title over the age of 50. He might relish the challenge of holding back the tide of age and the prospect of beating the young kids when he is 50."

The Masters runs until Sunday, 21 January and the winner will collect 200,000.

Masters schedule

First round

Sunday, 14 January (all times GMT)

13:00: Mark Selby (Eng) v Mark Williams (Wal)

19:00: Mark Allen (NI) v Luca Brecel (Bel)

Monday, 15 January

13:00: Ding Junhui (Chn) v Ryan Day (Wal)

19:00: Judd Trump (Eng) v Liang Wenbo (Chn)

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