Neil Robertson says a semi-final clash against Ronnie O’Sullivan at this year’s World Championship would be like playing Manchester City behind closed doors.

The Thunder from Down Under eased past world No.34 Liang Wenbo 10-5 on Sunday to keep hopes of a tantalising last four tussle with the Rocket alive, who leads 8-1 in his first session against Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.

O’Sullivan hit the headlines for blasting the decision to have fans in the Crucible as part of the Government pilot scheme, before the initiative was scrapped on Friday to mean this year’s showpiece will take place behind closed doors.

Five-time world champion O’Sullivan is one of the most popular players ever but Robertson reckons the potential match-up will be as difficult as facing Pep Guardiola’s clinical side in front of no fans.

“It’s like Man City playing behind closed doors - they’re just playing football and are just training, and just too good,” the 38-year-old said.

“It’s similar with Ronnie - like, how do you apply pressure? He is the best player in the world, so how do you change that dynamic and put him under pressure?

“If he’s not performing with the crowd and you’re getting on top of him, then you can put him under a lot of pressure, but that’s not going to happen because there’s no crowd.

“So you’re going to have to completely outplay him - there won’t be any mind games, he won’t be getting bogged down and you’ve just got to outplay him over a very long distance.

“And I think you saw today with how he played and it was just like scary practice form, so I think that’s given him a really big boost and I don’t think anyone’s going to enjoy playing him in front of no crowd.”

O’Sullivan was in thrilling form as he took to the Sheffield baize and while world No.2 Robertson wasn’t quite as fluent in his match, two century breaks in the morning session left him well-placed to progress at 5-4 up.

And Wenbo, who the 2010 world champion beat in the 2015 UK Championship final in York, could only muster a single frame in the second session as Robertson struck breaks of 97, 89 and 50 to move into the second round.

There he will face either Barry Hawkins or Alexander Ursenbacher, followed by a possible quarter-final against Mark Selby before that mouthwatering bout with O’Sullivan.

Robertson has never played the Rocket on the Crucible’s famous single table setup and would relish the prospect of doing so with a spot in the final up for grabs.

“We could do [play each other in the semi-finals] - probably not in time for the crowds to get back, but it’s a long way to go, and we’ve got to win another two matches to get there,” he added.

“I’ll have a really tough last 16 and quarter-final no matter who I’m playing, but I’d love to play him on the one-table setup as I’m yet to do that in my career, which I think, with or without a crowd, would be a great achievement.”

Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July -16th August with analysis from Jimmy White.