Mark Allen begins his latest pursuit of a maiden World Championship title with a First Round tie against qualifier Scott Donaldson at The Crucible on Easter Monday.
Allen is embarking on his 16th consecutive World Championship campaign but has struggled to produce his brilliant best form on the sport’s greatest stage.
The six-time ranking event winner reached the Semi-Finals back in 2009 and has since made it to a further three Quarter-Finals, but has failed to progress beyond Round Two in nine of his last ten appearances.
The Antrim ace began the season superbly by finishing runner-up in the Championship League before going on to win the Northern Ireland Open on home soil in Belfast, ending a three-year wait for a ranking title.
He has also reached the Semi-Finals of the German Masters and is looking to retain his top 16 status for next season.
Donaldson, meanwhile, returns for only his second World Championship appearance, having lost out 10-4 to Kyren Wilson on his debut in 2019.
The 28-year-old won three qualifying matches to seal his place in the main event, starting with a 6-0 whitewash of Allen’s stepson Robbie McGuigan, before edging out Li Hang 6-5 and thrashing Allan Taylor 10-1.
The 2020 Championship League winner has not made it beyond the Third Round stage of any ranking tournament this season but will be determined to finish with a flourish in the biggest event of all.
Allen has dominated the head-to-head record between the pair, winning seven of their eight matches stretching back to 2015.
Their latest meeting gets under way from 10am BST on Monday April 18 for a maximum of nine frames, before resuming to a finish from 7pm over the best of 19.
Six-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan awaits the winner in the Second Round on Friday.
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