Snooker: Buoyant Walker targets top scalps

Sheffield cueman Joel Walker.
Sheffield cueman Joel Walker.
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He is regularly pushing the elite players in the sport to their limit, earning rave reviews along the way.

Now promising Sheffield cueman Joel Walker wants to start beating them on a consistent basis.

The 20-year-old lost his opening match of the new season earlier this week, sliding to a 5-3 defeat to Judd Trump in the qualifying stages of the Wuxi Classic. But Trump, ranked six in the world, was very impressed by Walker’s performance, saying “he is one to watch out for in the future”.

Walker’s narrow loss to Trump came only three months after he was edged out five frames to four by Sheffield-based star Ding Junhui in the last eight of the Welsh Open.

“I’m getting a lot of compliments off people,” Walker told The Telegraph. “It shows that I am on the right track. If I carry on with what I’m doing, I will be up there with the top guys sooner rather than later. I know I am not too far away to getting to the latter stages of events all the time.”

Walker, who practices at Fulwood Sports Club with former Crucible finalist Nigel Bond, said there were a lot of positives he could take from his display against Trump. He compiled a break of 106 on his way to winning three out of the opening four frames before Trump hit back.

He said: “I was happy with how I played. It was a good game played at a decent standard. It could have gone either way. He [Trump] just took his chances better after the interval.

“It doesn’t matter who I come up against. I know the top players have got to play well to beat me.”

Walker is set to feature in the Australian Goldfields Open qualifiers, which will be staged at the Capital Venue at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester, this weekend. His first round opponent has yet to be confirmed.