Sheffield potter Joel Walker sent out a warning signal to the UK Snooker Championship draw on the opening night and he’s adamant he can beat anyone he faces in York.
The 20-year-old pulled off an eye-catching result as the tournament began at the Barbican in York, brushing aside Scot Alan McManus 6-1 in ruthless and convincing fashion.
As well as announcing himself as one of the tournament’s dark horses there was also a case of revenge for Walker, who was beaten by the Scot in dramatic fashion at the same venue a year ago – on a re-spotted black – also in the first round.
But he is more concerned with looking forward, eyeing up a good run at the UK Championship to ensure his name is on everyone’s lips.
“I’m confident no matter who I play now,” said Walker. “It is just doing it on the day.
“I have beaten top-16 players and took Ding [Junhui] to 5-4 – he has had to make back-to-back centuries to beat me – at the Welsh Open. I’m just really confident at the minute.
“I’ve been confident ever since halfway through last season when I started to play really well and get the results I know I’m capable of.
“I’ve just found my feet as a player an
d the experience I gained over the last year and a half stood me in good stead.
“In the first year especially I was very intimidated by players and after I gained more experience and I was playing them more regularly and practising with them, I didn’t care who I played anymore.
“It’s down to me at the end of the day and if I play well I can beat anybody – it is just doing it.”
Walker did concede some good fortune early on against McManus had set him up for such a crushing victory.
However, his ability to grasp the opportunity and show his clinical edge left the 20-year-old smiling.
“At the interval I was pretty lucky to go in 3-1 up with the way I played – I would have taken it when I started,” he added.
“When I came back from the interval I played really well – I got three one-visit frames and that’s all you can ask for.
“I played him last year in the UKs and lost 6-5 on the re-spot so it’s nice to get my own back – that was pleasing.”
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