The Magician is looking to add to his career haul of nine ranking titles.
Shaun Murphy admitted after his Northern Ireland Open victory on Monday that any momentum gained from his World Championship run earlier this year has been lost.
The 2021 Crucible runner-up beat amateur Bai Langning to reach the last 64 of what is just the third ranking event of this campaign.
The action this week at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast comes almost two months after the British Open was completed in August, highlighting the bitty 2021/22 term thus far.
“To be honest, I think that the gap has just been too long,” Shaun Murphy told the World Snooker Tour after his preliminary-round triumph.
“I think any momentum I had the chance of carrying into this season has gone. I think had we been in non-COVID times where you had six weeks off and rolled into some Far East events and some earlier events in Europe, maybe I would have been able to carry that on.”
“You know, that’s my first victory in a proper match – I’m going to use the word ‘proper’ – since the semi-finals of the World Championship back in April.
“It’s just too big a gap, and it’s a shame (because) I would have loved to have carried that into this season, but the gap in the calendar was just too big.
“Listen, I was absolutely thrilled with my run at the World Championships, but it came out of nowhere for me and I think everyone else – I had a terrible season.
“Much was made of the difficulties of living on this island and travelling to England playing all the tournaments there, that was very difficult.
“The run in the World Championships surprised me, but you just go again, you just rebuild, and even if I had won the world title I would have spent the summer looking to improve, analysing the game, and I’ve done exactly the same.
“(Belfast) is not somewhere I’ve had great success over the years, but I love coming to Belfast. I’m thrilled to get through and spend a few more days here.”
Murphy is back in action on Tuesday when he takes on Allan Taylor for a berth in the last 32, with the likes of reigning champion Judd Trump and home favourite Mark Allen among the others rejoining the fray.
Live coverage in Ireland and the UK continues on Eurosport and Quest TV.
Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)
Featured photo credit: WST