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Rocket and Ebdon to renew rivalry at the Crucible

RONNIE O'SULLIVAN has the chance to banish dark Crucible memories after being drawn to face Peter Ebdon at the World Championships.

Ebdon was the player all the seeds wanted to avoid in the first round, after he won the China Open at the start of this month, and followed that with a 10-0 demolition of Alfie Burden in the last qualifier on Sunday.

But crowd favourite O'Sullivan would have been particularly keen to avoid the 2002 world champion, given their history in Sheffield.

Ebdon defeated a 20-year-old O'Sullivan in the 1996 semi-finals, before that was avenged in 2001.

But their 2005 quarter-final meeting is pivotal in their rivalry, after O'Sullivan saw a 10-6 lead slip away when Ebdon's slow play left him bewildered and helpless.

Ebdon took the match 13-11, and despite O'Sullivan posting four big wins over the 41-year-old away from Sheffield since then, their history makes next Monday and Tuesday's clash a particularly attractive one.

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said: "Ebdon v O'Sullivan hits you like a slap in the face because of the contrast in styles."

John Higgins will begin the defence of his title against China's Liang Wenbo at 10am on Saturday.

Ireland's 1997 world champion Ken Doherty has been drawn against 2010 world champion Neil Robertson.