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Reigning world champion Selby races into second round

© AFP/File | England's Mark Selby in Sheffield, northern England, on May 2, 2016

SHEFFIELD (UNITED KINGDOM) (AFP) - 

Mark Selby made a commanding start to the defence of his World Championship title by overwhelming Fergal O'Brien 10-2 in their first-round match on Saturday.

The Englishman was 8-0 up at one stage to put himself in with a chance of completing only the second whitewash in the 40 years that the championship has been staged at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre.

But O'Brien, who won the longest frame in professional snooker history -- a marathon effort of more than two hours -- to book his place in the main draw as he completed a 10-9 qualifying win over Dave Gilbert, finally got on the scoreboard by taking the ninth frame with breaks of 23 and 32.

However, it was not long before the experienced Irishman's defeat was complete.

England's John Parrott, then the reigning world champion, completed the only Crucible whitewash when he defeated veteran Australian Eddie Charlton 10-0 in 1992.

Selby was disappointed he too had not managed a similar feat, saying: "I was gutted not to come out 9-0 after the first session, knowing there'd only been one whitewash here and it'd be nice to get another one."

"No disrespect to Fergal who's a great guy, but at 8-1 I was devastated when he won that frame."

Selby now has some precious time to himself before his second-round match and the 33-year-old from Leicester added: "I'll get on the practice table over the next few days and go and then go and watch Leicester (in the Champions League) on Tuesday night against Atletico Madrid -- hopefully they can get through."

Meanwhile O'Brien reckoned his marathon final qualifying match had left him drained.

"Probably after the efforts of getting here, there wasn't much left in the tank," the Dubliner said.

Stephen Maguire also enjoyed a 10-2 win, over fellow Scot Anthony McGill, as he won at the Crucible for the first time since beating seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry in the 2012 quarter-finals.

Five-times world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan was given a surprisingly hard time by tournament debutant Gary Wilson, a former taxi driver, and led by a mere one frame at 5-4 in a match that concludes on Sunday.

© 2017 AFP