Champion Selby meets Jones in Crucible first round

Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 16 April-2 May
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV and Red Button with uninterrupted coverage on BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app

Defending champion Mark Selby has been drawn against Wales’ Jamie Jones in the first round of the World Championship.

England’s Selby won his fourth title at the Crucible last year by beating Shaun Murphy, who plays Scotland’s Stephen Maguire in the opening round.

World number one Ronnie O’Sullivan faces a tough start against David Gilbert, while Judd Trump is up against Iranian debutant Hossein Vafaei.

Masters champion Neil Robertson faces first-timer Ashley Hugill.

The tournament begins on Saturday at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield with live coverage across the BBC.

Selby, who has not won any silverware this year and has been struggling with his mental health, gets his campaign under way against Jones in the morning session before playing to a conclusion in the evening.

But six-time champion O’Sullivan, who returned to the top of the rankings just before the event, is involved in the pick of the first-round matches against dangerous qualifier Gilbert.

World number 18 Vafaei, 27, said he wanted to “inspire more people back home” in Iran after qualifying to reach the Crucible for the first time, but faces a difficult task against 2019 champion Trump.

In a meeting of two former finalists, Kyren Wilson was drawn against China’s Ding Junhui, who has struggled for form in recent years and fallen to 29th in rankings.

Elsewhere, three-time winner Mark Williams plays Welsh compatriot Michael White, UK champion Zhao Xintong faces Jamie Clarke, while 2015 winner Stuart Bingham is up against China’s Lyu Haotian.

First-round draw in full:

Zhao Xintong v Jamie Clarke

Judd Trump v Hossein Vafaei

Neil Robertson v Ashley Hugill

Yan Bingtao v Chris Wakelin

John Higgins v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh

Kyren Wilson v Ding Junhui

Barry Hawkins v Jackson Page

Mark Selby v Jamie Jones

Anthony McGill v Liam Highfield

Shaun Murphy v Stephen Maguire

Mark Williams v Michael White

Mark Allen v Scott Donaldson

Ronnie O’Sullivan v David Gilbert

Stuart Bingham v Lyu Haotian

Jack Lisowski v Matthew Stevens

Luca Brecel v Noppon Saengkham

‘Difficult to pick a winner’

1991 world champion John Parrott on BBC Radio 5 Live:

“I did the draw and I don’t think David Gilbert will be sending me a Christmas card this year – that is a stonker of a tie in the first round against Ronnie O’Sullivan.

“Ding Junhui against Kyren Wilson is another cracker and Stephen Maguire, who had to come through qualifying, plays Shaun Murphy. Some brilliant matches in the first round.

“The atmosphere will be brilliant but this is probably the most open tournament I can remember. The favourite is Neil Robertson who has been the best player this season.

“Some of the qualifiers who have come through have been brilliant but it is very difficult to pick a winner. There is so much talent and the event will be so watchable.”

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