Kettering's Kyren Wilson is relishing the prospect of a maiden Crucible tussle with red-hot ‘favourite’ Neil Robertson in the World Championship quarter-finals, writes Will Jennings.
And last year’s runner-up believes he can go all the way after downing world No.11 Barry Hawkins 13-10 in the second round.
Wilson, the world No.6, held off a rousing Hawkins fightback to finish with a flourish and book a last eight date with 2010 world champion Robertson.
The Australian has been the in-form player on tour this season – winning the UK and Tour Championship – but Wilson can’t wait to do battle with the world No.3 for the first time on the Crucible baize.
Wilson, 29, said: “I’m really looking forward to it.
“Neil’s obviously been tipped very heavily to win this event – he’s probably the big favourite to go on and lift the title.
“I’m obviously going to have my work cut out. I feel like I’m on to a little bit of win-win situation by playing Neil.
“I always enjoy playing him. We’ve had a good couple of matches recently where I’ve managed to get the better of him, and I’m looking forward to taking him on here at the Crucible for the first time.
“You expect long days and tough slogs coming into the best of 25 frames. If you can come through them, it’s quite handy having a couple of days off.
“You can recharge and chill out a little bit. You’re really into the thick of things now in the quarter-finals.”
Wilson boasts an impressive record at the Crucible and has now reached the quarter-finals every year since 2016.
He lost 18-8 against O’Sullivan in last year’s final but is well on the way to banishing those demons in this year’s Sheffield showpiece.
The Northamptonshire ace cracked in breaks of 107 and 102 against Hawkins, with nine further half-century visits helping hold off a stirring second session comeback.
Four-time ranking event winner Wilson is full of confidence after a consistent season and reckons he can be the man lifting the trophy come May 3.
The reigning Championship League champion added: “I always believe I can go the distance.
“I always get there or there abouts in this tournament as of recent years. Now you’re into the quarter finals, you’re more than likely to come up against a top eight player.
“This is always a very tricky hurdle to get past.”
Watch the World Snooker Championship live on Eurosport and Eurosport app from April 17- May 3