Kyren Wilson and Ding Junhui will face each other in the first round of the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.
Kyren Wilson’s season so far
Kyren Wilson has enjoyed some decent runs in tournaments this season, but he has also exited early on many occasions.
The Kettering cueist has failed to add to his trophy cabinet, and aside from two versions of the short-format Championship League, it has been more than three years since he’s won a title of note.
Wilson reached the final of last month’s Gibraltar Open but came up short in a 4-2 reverse against the underdog Robert Milkins.
There was a disappointing defeat to Luca Brecel in the semi-final of the UK Championship as well.
Wilson wants to be considered as a top player and in the same conversation as the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson, and Judd Trump.
He’s not there yet, and the 30 year-old needs more prestigious pieces of silverware to ever reach those heights.
Sheffield has been a happy stomping ground for him in the past, with numerous runs to the latter rounds in the last six years – including a runner-up placing in 2020.
Ding Junhui’s season so far
Ding finally woke up from his slumber in the latter part of this season after his slide down the rankings resulted in him losing his top 16 membership and a spot at the Masters.
A semi-final appearance in the Turkish Masters, where he was pipped in a decider by Matthew Selt, was followed up with a quarter-final run in Gibraltar.
This is still a considerable underachievement for a player of Ding’s class, but it did mark a significant improvement on what came immediately before.
In the qualifiers, the Chinese star fought back from 7-4 behind to beat David Lilley 10-7, and the last time Ding emerged from the preliminaries he powered his way through to the final.
Wilson and Ding have met 14 times in total and the head-to-head is close, with the former just in front at 8-6.
The pair actually encountered each other twice in recent weeks, with Ding winning in Turkey and Wilson gaining revenge in Gibraltar.
Wilson loves the Crucible and has only failed to reach the quarter-finals once, way back in 2014 on his debut.
But Ding is one of the worst draws he could have hoped for, especially as the 35 year-old is playing his way back into some form.
It’s a stretch to suggest that Ding, still in search of that elusive world crown that would complete his CV, can mount a serious challenge this year for the trophy.
Wilson, however, could be in for a very tricky test in this first-round tie.
Prediction: Kyren Wilson 7-10 Ding Junhui
Wednesday, April 20th – 10am and 7pm
Featured photo credit: WST