Ronnie O’Sullivan is relishing his last 16 showdown with Ding Junhui at the Betway UK Championship.
World No 2 O’Sullivan – who is looking for a hat-trick of titles in York after lifting the trophy n 2017 and 2018 – beat Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham 6-2 at the Barbican yesterday.
It set-up a mouthwatering fourth-round match on Thursday with Sheffield-based Ding, who beat Ali Carter 6-4.
O’Sullivan, who is chasing the eighth UK title of his stellar career, said: “Ding is playing well, he looks like he’s cueing well.
“I’m looking forward to playing him and there will be a few watching in China I reckon!
“I have a really good following in China, a lot of support out there and I love my time there, I’m like their adopted son. It will be the real son against the adopted son – it should be good fun,” added O’Sullivan, who did not drop a frame in the first two rounds, whitewashing Ross Bulman and Tian Pengfei.
Not even a long-running foot injury could prevent O’Sullivan’s progression.
“It’s a really bad bruise, it’s quite a common running injury,” he said.
“I didn’t run for four months because I wanted to rest it but I started running again four or five weeks ago and it’s just really sore again.
“I’m due to see someone in January but until then I just have to take painkillers. If it gets any worse as it effects my back.
“I’m not prepared to stop running because I love it. I just have to manage it and hopefully it gets better.
“I’ll just not run on the days I play and hopefully it will be a bit better by Thursday. I don’t want to pull out.”
Ding – a UK champion in 2005 and 2009 – was 4-0 up against Carter, after breaks of 64, 104, 52 and 69, before a 116 clearance secured victory.
Stephen Maguire booked his place in the next round with a 6-2 victory over his fellow Scot Graeme Dott.
Tickets for next year’s UK Championship in York go on sale on Sunday.
The event will run from November 24 to December 6.
A World Snooker spokesman said: “We are thrilled to be coming back to the York Barbican next year for one of our biggest tournaments.
“The event seems to grow each year in terms of the demand for tickets.”