Snooker: O'Sullivan back in the groove

Ronnie O'Sullivan was back in the old routine on Saturday as the reigning world champion launched his title defence by racing into a 7-2 lead against Marcus Campbell.

O'Sullivan has been in self-imposed exile from the sport since winning his fourth World Championship crown in 2012.

But he showed few signs of rust in his first match since beating Ali Carter in the final at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre 12 months ago.

The 37-year-old initially hinted he may be finished with snooker for good, but he was tempted back to the table to defend the title and it would be little surprise if he carried off the silverware once again.

Despite arriving at the tournament with no match preparation, O'Sullivan dominated the opening session against Scotland's Campbell and needs only three more frames later on Saturday to book his place in the second round.

O'Sullivan was welcomed back to the sport with a rapturous reception from the Crucible crowd and he responded with some fine play as his friend and British artist Damien Hirst watched on.

When O'Sullivan potted four reds and four blacks at the start of the opening frame a maximum 147 break was on the cards.

But O'Sullivan took blue off the fifth red, so it would not be a fairytale opening, yet he still progressed to an 82 break which took the frame.

He managed to lose the next frame from 49-0 ahead, but Campbell, ranked one place higher than O'Sullivan due to the Englishman's recent inactivity, then began to make a habit of wasting substantial leads himself.

Runs of 26 and 25 moved Campbell nicely in front in the third, but O'Sullivan pinched it with his run to 62.

O'Sullivan was 59-0 adrift in frame four but a 71 break left Campbell grimacing in his seat.

He pinched the next on the colours, after a 42-minute grind, before steaming four frames clear after Campbell failed to make a plant and was left to suffer in his seat.

The Scot managed to cut the gap as breaks of 54 and 41 gave him frame seven, but O'Sullivan's 86 showed who was in charge.

And O'Sullivan finished the session with a sixth half-century break to ensure the scoreline would be heavily weighted in his favour when they resumed.