Kyren Wilson is in confident mood as he prepares to return to the Crucible for the Betfred World Championship.
The Kettering snooker star will get his campaign under way against world number 51 David Grace, who is making his Crucible debut, on Saturday afternoon as he bids to better his appearance in the quarter-finals last year.
Having burst on to the world scene when he won the Shanghai Masters in September 2015, the 25-year-old has come through another season to head to Sheffield as one of the top 16 players on the planet.
While a ranking title has evaded him this season, he has had one final appearance as well as reaching two other semi-finals, the most recent being at the China Open earlier this month when he was beaten by world number one Mark Selby in the last four.
Wilson, who revealed earlier this week that he and his wife Sophie are expecting their second child later in the year, is looking forward to the biggest fortnight on the snooker calendar.
It’s the first time he has qualified by right thanks to his world ranking of 14 and he is hopeful of exceeding his achievements of last year.
“I showed last year that I am comfortable there,” the Kettering star said.
“Hopefully I can go even better than last year and that is certainly my aim.
“But I know it will be difficult because there are a lot of players who are playing very well at the moment.
“This is the one we all want to be in.
“And it’s nice to be going into it without having had the stress of getting through the qualifying stages.”
Wellingborough-born Rory McLeod, who now lives in Leicester, will be back at the Crucible for the first time since 2011 after coming through the qualifying stages with a 10-7 victory over Hammad Miah yesterday (Wednesday).
McLeod was handed a tough first-round draw as he will face world number two Judd Trump, a match which will get under way on next Tuesday.