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Mark Allen is relishing a tantalising Crucible battle against Ronnie O’Sullivan after overcoming Scott Donaldson in the World Championship first round.
Antrim potter Allen eased past Scotland’s Donaldson 10-6 with two century breaks and a further five contributions of over 50.
The Northern Ireland Open winner took a narrow 5-4 lead into the concluding session.
Allen then asserted control to take a three-frame advantage and fought off a mini-fightback to set up a storming last 16 clash against six-time champion O’Sullivan.
“I was happy to hang in there in stages and make it tough for Scott. I closed it out reasonably well in the end," Allen said.
“There is the odd easier game of people not playing well here but you have to play good stuff and make good clearances when you need them.
“That match had a bit of everything today. It wasn’t the best you’ll ever see but it was far from the worst and there was some real good stuff at times as well.”
O’Sullivan sealed his own spot in the second round by rallying to beat David Gilbert 10-5.
The world number one is bidding to equal Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles and is in a relaxed mood in his latest tilt at history.
But Allen defeated the Rocket in the pair's sole Crucible meeting in a 2009 second round-tie, on route to his only ever visit to the semi-final one-table setup.
“It’s what we play the game for,” Allen said on facing O'Sullivan.
“You want to play the best on the biggest stages and I’m no different. Ronnie is just another opponent to me.
“The only time I’ve ever played him in Sheffield I beat him so I’ve got to keep those memories going forward.
“I appreciate how tough the task is but Ronnie’s been coming here 30 years and won six.
“That means he’s lost 24 so I want to be one of those and it’s just a game of snooker so who knows.”