The 2022 Masters is starting on Sunday. Yan Bingtao is the defending champion. He will face Mark Williams in the opening match on Sunday afternoon.
He and his girlfriend, Ada Zang, just moved in their new house in the Sheffield area.
Rob Walker has paid the young couple a visit:
I often struggle a bit with Rob’s over-enthusiastic style, but if this video doesn’t endear Ada and Yan to the fans, nothing will: two unassuming hard-working youngsters speaking about their dreams, projects, hobbies, garden and friends (on two or four legs).
Yan is looking forward to his title defense and looks very happy, but not every player involved in the Masters is in that positive mood as this interview with Kyren Wilson shows. It is a bit of a mixed bag
Kyren Wilson spoke exclusively to Nick Metcalfe
Family man Kyren Wilson admits he finds it hard to prepare for snooker’s Masters
By Nick Metcalfe WED January 05, 2022
Kyren Wilson has admitted that being such a committed family man makes it difficult for him to prepare for one of snooker’s biggest events, the Masters.
Wilson reached the 2018 Masters final at Alexandra Palace, otherwise he’s failed to get past the last eight in his four other January appearances in north London.
And talking exclusively to Sporting Life, world No.5 Wilson said: ‘I must admit, I’ve always found it quite difficult to prepare for the Masters.
‘I’ve got two young children, my birthday is on the 23rd of December, and obviously then there’s Christmas and New Year’s. I am a family man, I like to celebrate with my family as much as I can.
‘I’m trying to bring up two children at the same time as trying to be a selfish snooker player. And sometimes you do think there are more important things than potting balls. But the sort of hungry animal that’s inside me still wants to work hard and wants to put in the time and effort.
‘My wife is fantastic, she always gives me free rein for the World Championship. I think that’s why you see a different player at the Crucible than some of the other events throughout the year.‘
Wilson hasn’t reached a tournament final yet this season, but successive last four appearances at the Champion of Champions and UK Championship suggests that he isn’t far away from adding more silverware to his collection.
However, the Englishman does firmly believe the long seven-week gap earlier this season, between the British Open in August and October’s Northern Ireland Open, adversely affected his campaign.
‘I struggled at that time to tell you the truth,‘ Wilson said. ‘I didn’t really get motivated. I like to know that I’m aiming for something, targeting something, building towards something. When there was no tournament to aim for, I just found it hard to keep motivated, to keep working hard and practising.
‘It felt a bit stop start and I don’t really think that suits me personally. I feel like I improve the more I play and get sharper as tournaments come thick and fast.
‘I’ve got a young family, so I just decided to use that time to be with them. We ended up going away to Portugal, which was amazing. I picked up my cue again two weeks before the Irish.‘
Wilson was beaten 6-4 in the semi-finals of the UK Championship last month, the first Triple Crown event of the season, by an inspired Luca Brecel. Soon after he was knocked out at the first round stage of the Scottish Open and World Grand Prix, by Fergal O’Brien and Anthony Hamilton respectively.
Asked if there was a hangover from York, Wilson said: ‘One hundred per cent. It was a horrible match at the Grand Prix, a really late finish, and I just struggled. I really struggled to get up for it to tell you the truth.
‘It was a massive comedown. You go to York with the one table set-up and I absolutely loved that experience. It was amazing, the transformation from four tables to two to one. And then you go to these other venues, its not discrediting them but and they’re not in the same class as that venue.
‘At the Grand Prix I’m on table two out of the way and you just can’t really get up for it when you’ve just played at the York Barbican on one table in front of a couple of thousand people. My blood is pumping and my heart is pumping when I know the TV cameras are there and you’re playing to an audience.
‘That’s taking nothing away from Anthony Hamilton, who is a class player. I always really enjoy playing Anthony, it’s always proper match snooker. I just couldn’t get up for that match.‘
The eventual winner of the World Grand Prix was Ronnie O’Sullivan, who saw off Neil Robertson in the final for his first tournament victory since the 2020 World Championship 16 months before.
Asked if he felt O’Sullivan’s win was good for snooker, Wilson said: ‘Not for me. I want to be where he is and I want to be winning. So selfishly no.
‘To be honest I didn’t watch any of it whatsoever. I’m 50/50 sometimes whether I tune in or not bother, and I got to the point where I was just a little bit sick of it.
‘I didn’t watch any of it but obviously you can’t get away from the headlines, and Ronnie has obviously proven again what a great champion he is.‘
Wilson found himself in the headlines earlier this season when he complained to reporters about playing Noppon Saengkham on table two at the English Open in Milton Keynes, while at the same time China’s Ding Junhui – who is lower in the world rankings – was on table one.
Some other players, including Judd Trump, had little sympathy for Wilson’s complaints. But the Kettering man has certainly not changed his views two months on.
‘I stand by what I said 100 per cent,’ he said. ‘I wasn’t coming from a point of view that the players above me shouldn’t be on table one, they’ve earned their place and their right.
‘You were getting players that were lower ranked than me, that haven’t achieved what I’ve achieved in the last couple of years, on table one. I feel like there’s a bit of favouritism in there in who gets picked.
‘There are so many good players and so many entertaining players. I play the game in the right fashion, I try to make it watchable to other people but at the same time there is a fine balance because I’ve got a mortgage to pay, I’ve got two kids to feed and I’ve got a big family to try and look after.
‘I think off the back of certain things, like getting to a world final and playing in a semi-final with some of the biggest viewing figures ever seen in snooker history, I just think sometimes a little bit more could be made of that.
Wilson is now looking forward to the Masters. Despite Covid concerns continuing to plague the country, the prestigious event will be going ahead with crowds.
And Wilson cannot wait to experience the famous Alexandra Palace atmosphere once more, after the 2021 tournament had to be played behind closed doors in Milton Keynes.
‘I believe it’s as good as it gets,’ he said. ‘The only other atmosphere that does come close is the Tempodrom at the German Masters. Obviously I’m from the UK so it’s our home fans and for me it’s extra special, I have a lot of friends and family that come up.
‘I have fond memories of the venue, getting to the final in 2018 and having my son Finley come in for the very first frame. He was far too young to stay in for the whole match.
‘I’ll never forget when he piped up just before we were all about to start. There were a lot of shouts for Mark Allen and a lot of shouts for me in the crowd, and just as we were about to kick off you heard a little noise saying, “come on daddy”. I’ll always remember that and I love Ally Pally.‘
Wilson kicks off his campaign on Wednesday against former world champion, and 2020 Masters winner, Stuart Bingham. And Wilson is full of admiration for his fellow Englishman and the success he has enjoyed over the last decade.
‘What Stuart has achieved in the latter years of his career has been amazing really,‘ Wilson added.
‘To win a World Championship, to win a Masters and other big events is fantastic to see. He plays the game in a nice way. I think he’s very natural to watch, very aggressive, scores very heavily, I think he’s one of the biggest maximum hitters to play the game.
‘It’s just about trying to focus on you and playing the right shots at the right time. We’ve all beaten each other really, everybody knows how to get the W nowadays.
‘I just think you’ve just got to embrace the atmosphere, embrace the arena, embrace the tournament and just accept the best man is going to win on the day.‘
Who is on the main table is decided by WST AND the broadcaster together. Obviously commercial interests come into play. Whether we agree or not, it’s how it is. No matter his current ranking, Ding remains a huge figure in China, and China remains a huge market for snooker.