Ronnie O’Sullivan to face Ebdon in first round at Crucible

Ronnie O’Sullivan will face fellow former champion Peter Ebdon in the pick of the first-round ties at the World Championship.

Ebdon, who won the world title in 2002, will go head-to-head with three-time champion O’Sullivan over afternoon sessions next Monday and Tuesday.

The contest is a rematch of their famous quarter-final at the Crucible seven years ago, which Ebdon won 13-11 after mounting a dramatic comeback.

The 41-year-old Ebdon breezed through his qualifier on Sunday night, beating Alfie Burden 10-0, and after winning the China Open at the start April is in good form heading into the tournament in Sheffield.

Meanwhile, defending champion John Higgins will begin his campaign at 10am on Saturday – the first day of the event – against China’s Liang Wenbo.

Luca Brecel, the 17-year-old Belgian who will be the youngest player to appear at the World Championship, was handed a tricky opening contest against Scotland’s Stephen Maguire.

Stephen Hendry, like Ebdon a former world champion who had to come through qualifying, has been handed a Saturday afternoon start against Stuart Bingham.

The seven-time champion had been hoping to avoid playing on day one of the tournament as he does not return from a business trip to China until Friday.

Should he come through the first round, Hendry will face the winner of fellow Scot Higgins and Liang. Hendry and Higgins have never played each other at the Crucible.

World number one Mark Selby, who has been troubled by a back problem, was drawn against Barry Hawkins, while last year’s runner-up Judd Trump will take on Welshman Dominic Dale.

Last year, Bristol cueman Trump shocked defending champion Neil Robertson as a qualifier on the opening day before embarking on a thrilling run to the final.

Australian Robertson starts against Ireland’s 1997 world champion Ken Doherty, who also came through qualifying this year.

Two-time winner Mark Williams was handed a clash with Chinese player Liu Chuang.

World Championship first round draw:

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