Robert Milkins and Joe Perry will face each other in the first round of the 2023 World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.
This season for Robert Milkins
It has been an astounding end to the 2022/23 campaign for Robert Milkins, who came relatively out of nowhere to deservedly deliver himself a top-16 seeding.
After reaching the last four of the German Masters in February, Milkins proceeded to land his second ranking title at the Welsh Open by overcoming Shaun Murphy in the final.
A quarter-final run at the Players Championship then helped him qualify for the prestigious eight-player Tour Championship for the first time.
Milkins has played with the freedom of a man who has successfully turned his career around after the low point of the Turkish Masters last year when he was fined for drunken behaviour.
The 47 year-old has reached the second round at the Crucible Theatre on three occasions, and this could be his best opportunity to eclipse that.
This season for Joe Perry
Joe Perry said that he felt physically sick after his dramatic 10-9 black-ball victory over Mark Davis in the final round of the World Championship qualifiers on Wednesday.
It was a bittersweet triumph for the Gentleman, who secured himself a first Crucible appearance since 2019 but, in doing so, consigned his close friend to tour relegation.
It has not been an especially strong 2022/23 snooker season for Perry, with just one quarter-final at the UK Championship to show for his efforts.
However, Perry continues to defy his age to maintain a place among the top 32 in the world rankings, despite it being just over a year until his 50th birthday.
Before his defeat of Davis, Perry was involved in a 10-8 thriller with Sanderson Lam so will be battle-hardened ahead of his 17th Crucible appearance.
Milkins and Perry head-to-head
Perry and Milkins have played each other 14 times on the pro tour, and it’s the former who boasts the far superior record with 12 wins and just two defeats.
That said, the Englishmen have crossed paths only once since 2018 and that was in a Championship League encounter behind closed doors.
They previously faced one another in the last 32 of the World Championship all the way back in 2004, when Perry prevailed with a 10-7 scoreline.
Both Perry and Milkins are vastly different competitors to the ones that graced the Crucible Theatre together 19 years ago.
Milkins has always been a talented competitor, but he is currently playing with a confidence and freedom that he has probably never possessed in the past.
The Milkman has a poor record against Perry but is by far and away the player in more form, and he’ll be keen on getting an early advantage to stamp his authority on the contest.
Prediction: Robert Milkins 10-6 Joe Perry
Tuesday, April 18th – 7pm
Thursday, April 20th – 9:30am
Featured photo credit: WST