Judd Trump launches his Masters title defence when he faces Kyren Wilson in the opening round at Alexandra Palace on Tuesday.
The Ace landed his second Masters crown 12 months ago – four years after his first – as he defeated Mark Williams 10-8 in an exciting final.
Trump is now aiming to become the seventh player to complete a hat-trick of titles in snooker’s most prestigious invitational event, and the first to defend the Paul Hunter trophy since Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2017.
The world number two will be wary, though. The defending champion has lost their opening match in 10 of the last 19 editions of the Masters.
Nevertheless, he arrives off the back of an outstanding season thus far, having won the English Open, Wuhan Open and Northern Ireland Open and reached the European Masters and Champion of Champions final.
Excluding the Championship League and WST Pro Series, Trump has also won 12 of the last 13 frames he has played against Wilson, including a commanding 6-1 triumph in the 2022 Masters quarter-finals.
The Warrior was also beaten 6-2 in the opening round in 2019, though he did overturn a 5-2 deficit to prevail 6-5 in the previous year’s semi-finals.
Wilson was beaten 10-7 by Mark Allen in the 2018 final, and a deep run this week would ignite a generally modest season to date.
A quarter-finalist at the European Masters, the five-time ranking event winner has suffered four first-round exits and will hope to avoid another on his eighth successive Masters appearance since debuting in 2017.
The winner of this match will play Ali Carter in the Masters quarter-finals.
Play gets under way at 1pm GMT on Tuesday and will be contested over the best of 11 frames at Alexandra Palace.
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