Ronnie O’Sullivan attributed his World Snooker Championship win to his gladiator sprit after coming from 3-0 down to beat David Gilbert 10-5.
The world number one is hunting a record-equalling seventh title and will now face Mark Allen or Scott Donaldson in the second round.
O’Sullivan reeled off six frames in a row to take control after Gilbert had raced into a 3-0 lead at the Crucible.
Gilbert won the first two frames of the second session before O’Sullivan eased over the line.
The six-time champion told the BBC: “I am out there playing, enjoying it and just trying to compete. It is like Gladiator. Russell Crowe has a hole in his arm and knows he is going to die, but you just have to find a way. That is what winners and gladiators do.
“I probably wasn’t born to play snooker, but I was born to do something with a ball. I just wish it would have been another sport where my temperament would have been suited to it. I find snooker challenging.
“To be the best at something it takes graft, time and effort. Sometimes you ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’
“I was never born a winner, but I had to have it drummed into me. A bit like Serena Williams and Tiger Woods, I had that type of father figure where I was told, ‘You are going to be a success’.
“I wasn’t that bothered, but I was toughened up mentally. I was mentored that way.”
Former Crucible champion Shaun Murphy went out after a 10-8 loss to Stephen Maguire, who won the final three frames to see off the 2005 winner.
Murphy was offered a chance to save himself in the 18th frame when Maguire missed a long red when up by 56 with 75 remaining, but, after potting the black three times, he missed the final red with the rest, and his chances disappeared.
Barry Hawkins suffered a 7-10 defeat to debutant Jackson Page, who quickly moved into a 3-0 lead, hit a break of 128 to help him move 9-7 clear in a decisive moment and sealed the game in the next frame.
Mark Williams led Michael White 7-1, Anthony McGill held a 6-3 lead over Liam Highfield and Zhao Xintong beat Jamie Clarke 10-2.