POOL is cool in China and Chris Melling is loving every minute of it.

The Keighley potter has headed to the Far East this week to compete in the China Open and admits he is afforded a heroes welcome every time he visits the country.

The 40-year-old says the sport is big business in China and regularly pays visits there as part of his globe-trotting duties.

He even competes regularly in China in a new national league. He is one of a field of two Englishmen, five Chinese and a South African player. Their matches also follow a multi-national format; the Joy league involves English eight-pool on a Chinese nine-ball table with snooker pockets using American pool balls, which are bigger.

Melling describes this as different, but it could explain his notoriety in China.

His career has seen him make a number of trip to the Far East already this year in a season which ends in November.

So far in 2019 Melling's passport has been stamped in Las Vega, New York, Indiana and Gibraltar, but it's China that is on his mind now.

Melling said: "I went back over to China on Monday to compete in the China Open, the draw was on Wednesday.

"The China Open features 64 of the world's best players. I won this tournament in 2011. I've gone back most years, apart from when I had a couple of years playing snooker.

"It's held in Shanghai in a basketball arena, it's huge. They love it, especially Chinese pool, it's the biggest sport there. There are 3,000 pool clubs just in Beijing and there are 40 to 50 tables in each one.

"When you land at the airport and get onto a train, you get off the train and you get treated like a superstar really.

"They all want your picture and it's a bit mind-blowing at first. It's nice, over in England snooker is the number one cue sport and will be for quite some time. It's still nice to be asked to have a picture."

Melling also rates his chances of success in the tournament, which runs between September 5 and 9.

He added: "I'm looking to win the China Open.

"I'm playing well enough, but you do need a bit of luck. It's the luck of the draw."

He is also becoming a lean, mean potting machine after losing a stone since reverting to a sugar-free diet six weeks ago.

Melling says life on the road, staying in hotels, eating at different times of the day, needed to stop and already feels better for it.

He added: "Six weeks ago I changed my ways.

"I've gone from drinking 10 bottles of Coke a day and eating all kinds of rubbish like McDonald's and KFC. I completely quit everything. I don;t have any sugar, no crisps.

"Because of the lifestyle I was always in hotels, eating late. Twitter is banned in China, Facebook is banned. It's not a nice situation to be in, stuck in a hotel and only going out to play a match. But I have to look at the bigger picture, it's not like working a nine to five job.

"With the diet, I'm 40 years old, if I can can advantage of things like that it will help me in the future. I believe in my own ability."

He is also looking to add to an impressive roll call of tournaments and titles during a stellar career at the table. These included being a two-time World 8-Ball champion, two-time Mosconi Cup champion and a Mosconi Cup most valuable player (MVP). He was also crowned a two-time World Challenge Tour Champion at snooker, a sport where he notched up 23 maximum 147 breaks. He is also the only person to be a professional at snooker, pool and 9-Ball at the same time.

As he looks to add to these accomplishments, Melling added he has just had his first eye test in 10 years where he was told he has 20-20 vision.

He'll be hoping he can clearly see success in China this week.