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EDITIONS

  Friday, 10 May, 2002, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
O'Sullivan in exalted company

Ronnie O'Sullivan has become only the second Englishman, after Steve Davis, to top the world rankings since the system was introduced in 1976.

The Embassy World Championship semi-finalist joins Ray Reardon, Cliff Thorburn, Davis, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins and Mark Williams as only the seventh player in total to climb to the pinnacle of the official rankings.

After enjoying a highly successful 2001/2001 campaign, O'Sullivan gave himself a substantial cushion by winning the UK Championship in December and none of his potential challengers could sustain a late run.

Ronnie O'Sullivan
O'Sullivan goes top despite his Crucible loss

Williams begins the new season in second place, thanks largely to back to back victories in the China Open and Thailand Masters.

Peter Ebdon shoots from seventh to a career high third as a result of his Crucible triumph.

"Being number one has always been one of my goals and now I've got the chance of achieving it," said Ebdon.

"I'm not even thinking about next season at the moment but I'll be in with a shout of the number one spot when we come back. It's a real possibility."

Higgins finds himself in fourth, Ken Doherty also slips one place to fifth, Hendry is sixth while Stephen Lee and Matthew Stevens complete the top eight.

It means Paul Hunter, a surprise first round casualty in Sheffield, remains ninth.

Although his latest World Championship appearance ended in disappointment, Jimmy White is up from 11th to 10th.

White, 40, on 2 May, is comfortably the oldest player among the game's top 16.

There will be two new members of the top 16 next season, Joe Perry, beaten finalist in the European Open, who leaps from 27th to 13th, and Quinten Hann, up from 25th to 14th.

Hann is the first Australian in that elite group since Eddie Charlton in 1986.

Quinten Hann
Hann is the only non-British player in the top 16

Making way for the new entries are Fergal O'Brien, down from 16th to 23rd, and Dave Harold, who falls from 15th to 21st.

John Parrott retains hope of regaining top 16 status at the end of next season, having risen from 22nd to 18th, but promotion will be difficult for Steve Davis, who celebrates his 45th birthday in August.

Davis, who failed to qualify for the Crucible for the second year in succession, slides from 21st to 25th.

Critics of the manner in which the system protects those in the top 16, and even more so, in the top 32, will point to the stagnation that has taken place.

Only one player, Ali Carter, enters the top 32.

Up from 61st to 31st, Carter replaces Billy Snaddon, who plummets from 26th to 40th.

Other notable improvers include Robert Milkins (54th to 33rd), Robin Hull (86th to 39th), Shaun Murphy (169th to 72nd) and Rory McLeod (321st to 88th).

See also:

07 May 02 | World Champs 2002
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