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Ronnie O'Sullivan to begin world title defence versus Pang Junxu

O'Sullivan to begin world title defence versus Pang
© Reuters
Ronnie O'Sullivan will begin his bid for an eighth world title with a first-round tie against China's Pang Junxu.

Ronnie O'Sullivan has been drawn to play China's Pang Junxu in the first round of the 2023 World Snooker Championship.

Last year's winner is bidding to lift the trophy for a record-breaking eighth time in the modern era, but he will first have to prevail past the emerging 23-year-old who has reached the Welsh Open semi-finals and WST Classic final since the turn of the year.

The veteran would also face a eye-catching last-16 showdown should he progress, with Ding Junhui or Hossein Vafaei potentially awaiting the legendary Englishman.

Judd Trump, the 2019 champion and last year's runner-up, has also been provided with one of the toughest openers on paper, a meeting with Scotland's Anthony McGill.

Elsewhere in the top half of the draw, three-time champion Mark Williams will play Jimmy Robertson, Shaun Murphy goes up against Si Jiahui and Jack Lisowski faces Noppon Saengkham in what could prove to be one of the ties of the round.

In the other side of the 32-man tournament, four-time winner Mark Selby opens his campaign with a showdown versus Matthew Selt.

Fellow four-time champion John Higgins goes up against David Grace, the victor setting up a clash with either Kyren Wilson or Ryan Day.

Australia's Neil Robertson, the 2010 winner, plays Wu Yize, while Mark Allen and Ali Carter square off against Fan Zhengyi and Jak Jones respectively.

The competition in Sheffield gets underway on Saturday.

Draw in full

Ronnie O'Sullivan vs. Pang Junxu
Ding Junhui vs. Hossein Vafaei
Luca Brecel vs. Ricky Walden
Mark Williams vs. Jimmy Robertson
Judd Trump vs. Anthony McGill
Jack Lisowski vs. Noppon Saengkham
Robert Milkins vs. Joe Perry
Shaun Murphy vs. Si Jiahui
Mark Allen vs. Fan Zhengyi
Stuart Bingham vs. David Gilbert
Ali Carter vs. Jak Jones
Neil Robertson vs. Wu Yize
Kyren Wilson vs. Ryan Day
John Higgins vs. David Grace
Gary Wilson vs. Elliot Slessor
Mark Selby vs. Matthew Selt

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Ali Carter in action against Mark Selby during the second round of The Dafabet World Snooker Championship at Crucible Theatre on April 25, 2014
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