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Chris Melling books his passage to China
Keighley’s Chris Melling is China-bound, having qualified for the season’s first major tournament on the world circuit.
Having clinched his two-year tour card earlier this month, the 35-year-old beat twice World Championship runner-up Matthew Stevens 5-4 at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester to reach the final stages of the Wuxi Classic.
Stevens led 4-3 but Melling won the eighth frame 53-44 and took the ninth 86-8 on the back of a 52 break.
Melling will head to the Chinese city after winning his first match since making it through Qualifying School earlier this month.
Melling, who next plays Ross Muir on Saturday in an Australian Goldfields Open qualifier, is hoping to make it third time lucky as a snooker player.
The 35-year-old is best known in pool, having twice been a former eight-ball world champion, world No 3 at nine-ball and been a key member of Europe’s Mosconi Cup team.
But Melling clinched one of the four spots up for grabs in the first Qualifying School event.
He previously played professional snooker in 2001-02 and 2003-04 but struggled to make an impact.
However, the player nicknamed the Magician said: “When I played pro snooker before there were only seven tournaments in Prestatyn, and it was hard to get through the qualifiers.
“These days there are a lot more tournaments, plus the flat draws give everyone a much better chance to get to the venues, and I love playing in front of a big crowd. In the past the top 16 were too protected.
"When I was a snooker player before, I was mixing it with pool, which is difficult. I will still play a few pool events next season but mainly I will be focused on snooker and I am really enjoying playing at the moment.
“It was only because the pool calendar went downhill that I started playing snooker a couple of months ago for the first time in five years.
“I bought a cue and on the third day of practice I made a 147. So I decided to give Q School a try and now I’m on the tour for two years.”
Melling also revealed that tips from a former world champion had paid off.
He said: “I play at the Cue Gardens Club in Bradford and Joe Johnson has been a big help to me, giving me free practice and a lot of advice about safety.
“I have never had anyone to really push me before but he has given me a lot of confidence and if I don’t complete the routines he gives me, he lets me know about it.”
Having reached the fifth round, Melling won his place in the semi-finals – therefore securing his card – by beating Duane Jones 4-3 in the last eight with breaks of 86, 60 and 75.
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