Kettering star Wilson is ready for the Masters challenge

Kettering's Kyren Wilson faces Barry Hawkins in the first round of the Dafabet Masters next week
Kettering's Kyren Wilson faces Barry Hawkins in the first round of the Dafabet Masters next week

Kyren Wilson knows he will be in for a big challenge when he takes on Barry Hawkins in the first round of the Dafabet Masters on Tuesday night.

The Kettering star is preparing to make his second appearance in the prestigious competition, which sees the top 16 players in the world in action at the Alexandra Palace in London.

Wilson, now ranked number 14, was paired with world number seven Hawkins in the draw with the winner going on to face either world number one Mark Selby or Mark Williams in the quarter-finals.

Wilson and Hawkins, along with others, have been doing battle in the Championship League in the quieter surroundings of the Ricoh Arena in Coventry over the last week.

Hawkins beat the Kettering player 3-1 in a Group Two semi-final but Wilson gained revenge for that on Tuesday when he beat Hawkins by the same scoreline in the Group Three semi-final before going on to see off Mark Allen by the same scoreline to secure his place in the Winner’s Group at the end of March,

But the Kettering man believes events at the Ricoh Arena will have little bearing on what transpires on the bigger stage next week.

“I think it will all come down to the day,” Wilson said.

“It’s hard to get an idea of how a match will go if you judge it from a best of five game in Coventry.

“It’s going to be a completely different match because we are going to be playing in front of 2,000 people at the Alexandra Palace. I am really looking forward to it.

“It’s the top 16 players in the world so it’s always going to be difficult, no matter who you are drawn against.

“I was always going to be playing against one of the top eight players and it ended up being Barry. He had a final there a couple of years ago so it’s going to be a big challenge.”

It’s already been a busy start to the new year for Wilson and his schedule will remain fairly hectic for the next few months with all roads leading to the Betfred World Championship at the Crucible in April.

“It’s a very busy time now so it was good to have a really nice break with the family over Christmas,” he added.

“The good thing is that I haven’t really got to travel abroad until March, the majority of the upcoming tournaments and events are in the UK so it will be nice to be in the country.

“I am just so pleased to be doing what I do.

“It’s nice to have a job that I enjoy and one where I have been getting better and better as the years go by. Hopefully that continues."