Jamie Clarke has ben handed tough first round encounter after coming through three qualifying rounds. Pic: Getty Images.

Welsh Duo Handed Tough Draw In World Snooker Champs Opening Round

By Simon Kendal-Williams

Matthew Stevens and Jamie Clarke have both been handed tough first-round assignments in the Betfred World Snooker Championships.

Stevens, twice a finalist at the Crucible, takes on four-time champion John Higgins, runner-up to Judd Trump in 2019.

And 25-year-old debutant Clarke – who prevailed in three qualifying matches to reach this stage – faces in-form fourth-seed Mark Allen, ranked 85 places above the Welshman.

Three-time world champion Mark Williams is up against veteran Scot Alan McManus.

Elsewhere, Trump begins the defence of his title against Leicester’s 26th-seed Tom Ford, while second-seed Neil Robertson takes on Liang Wenbo.

Perhaps the pick of the draw sees a clash of two of the quickest players on the circuit, with multiple champion Ronnie O’Sullivan facing Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.

Llanelli’s Clarke is one of five players making their debut at the Crucible.

He joins Jordan Brown – conqueror of Ryan Day in the final qualifying round – England’s Ashley Carty and Elliot Slessor, and Alexander Ursenbacher, the first Swiss player to make it to Sheffield.

Full draw for the first round of the Betfred World Snooker Championship (rankings in brackets):
(1) Judd Trump v Tom Ford (26)
(16) Yan Bingtao v Elliot Slessor (69)
(9)Stephen Maguire v Martin Gould (60)
(8) Kyren Wilson v Anthony Hamilton (48)
(5) John Higgins v Matthew Stevens (31)
(12) David Gilbert v Kurt Maflin (43)
(13) Jack Lisowski v Anthony McGill (39)
(4) Mark Allen v Jamie Clarke (89)
(3) Mark Williams v Alan McManus (53)
(14) Stuart Bingham v Ashley Carty (82)
(11) Ding Junhui v Mark King (46)
(6) Ronnie O’Sullivan v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (20)
(7) Mark Selby v Jordan Brown (73)
(10) Shaun Murphy v Noppon Saengkham (42)
(15) Barry Hawkins v Alexander Ursenbacher (86)
(2 )Neil Robertson v Liang Wenbo (34)
First-round matches to be played Friday, July 31 – Tuesday, August 4. Best of 19 frames.

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