JOHN Higgins will begin the defence of his Betfred.com World Championship title against China’s Liang Wenbo - but the pick of the first-round draw sees Ronnie O’Sullivan face Peter Ebdon.
Ebdon beat O’Sullivan in a famous quarter-final in Sheffield seven years ago, when his slow play drew criticism and left O’Sullivan clearly frustrated.
At the age of 41, Ebdon breezed through his qualifier last night, beating Alfie Burden 10-0, and after winning the China Open at the start of the month he is a player in rich form.
The clash of the former world champions, Ebdon a one-time winner from 2002 and O’Sullivan a three-time title holder, will take place over afternoon sessions next Monday and Tuesday.
Higgins will begin his campaign at 10am on Saturday, day one of the tournament.
Draw for the first round of the Betfred.com World Championship, beginning in Sheffield on Saturday:
John Higgins v Liang Wenbo
Stuart Bingham v Stephen Hendry
Graeme Dott v Joe Perry
Stephen Maguire v Luca Brecel
Shaun Murphy v Jamie Jones
Stephen Lee v Andrew Higginson
Ali Carter v Mark Davis
Judd Trump v Dominic Dale
Mark Williams v Liu Chuang
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Peter Ebdon
Martin Gould v David Gilbert
Neil Robertson v Ken Doherty
Ding Junhui v Ryan Day
Mark Allen v Cao Yupeng
Matthew Stevens v Marco Fu
Mark Selby v Barry Hawkins