THERE is no time for Keighley potter Chris Melling to mope about his surprise early exit from the World Cup of Pool last week, as he gets set for his first tournament abroad since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The World Pool Masters begins in Gibraltar this Saturday, with Melling kicking off with a round one clash against talented teenage Bosnian Sanjin Pehlivanović.

Speaking about his opponent, Melling said: "Sanjin's a really good player.

"I remember when he started out at 10, as I went to a tournament in Sarajevo and he was very talented, even then.

"He's got a big future in front of him, but he's never played at the Masters before and never been on his own abroad.

"I've still got to play well to beat him though."

Asked about his tournament prospects as a whole, Melling said: "I've definitely got a chance of winning the whole thing.

"I won the eight-ball (Champions League Pool) tournament in March, came third in Championship League Pool a few weeks later, and I thought I was good last week too.

"I'm playing that preliminary game with Sanjin so it's one of the first ones, then if I get through I face (German) Joshua Filler.

"That will be tough, but I have a good record against him and have never lost. In general, I've just got to take each game as it comes."

Asked if he had enjoyed getting the chance to fly out to a tournament, Melling said: "It's all been a bit confusing to be honest.

"I had to get down to Heathrow as that was the only direct flight, and then there were some rule changes regarding the pandemic and Gibraltar while we were in the air.

"We'd done all the tests and paperwork we needed but the officials were funny with us when we arrived.

"(Fellow competitor) Jayson Shaw explained we were pool players and had elite status, but in the end Emily Frazer (managing director) at Matchroom had to get on the phone and sort us all out."

Shaw and Melling are close, but the pair, as Great Britain A, bowed out of the World Cup in just the second round last week, with the former potting the white in the decisive frame to hand opponents Estonia victory.

Melling admitted: "Obviously we were disappointed. Jayson hadn't played in 14 months, as he's bought a pool club and been working hard there.

"I've only played in a few big UK tournaments in the last year so we were a bit ring rusty.

"Jayson wasn't at his best in our first game and though he was better in the second, he overhit his shot in that last frame and scratched.

"It was a shame as I think I'd have made the winning shot on the nine-ball if Jayson had put me in position.

"People were saying that's what he should have done, as I'm regarded as one of the best shot-makers in the game."

Melling and Shaw had survived a scare in beating female Belarusian pair Margarita Fefilova and Yana Halliday 7-4 in the first round.

And the Keighley man said: "There's a lot of female talent around in our game compared to maybe some other sports.

"You're under pressure as you're expected to win as men, but they're very good at what they do."

Great Britain's C team did far better at the World Cup than Melling and Shaw, with veterans Karl Boyes and Darren Appleton, who had won the tournament in 2014, losing the final 11-6 to Germany.

An impressed Melling said: "Karl hadn't even played for four years and they only got the call up the day before, to replace Canada.

"Canada's initial team, one of their lads was stuck in the Philippines with a visa issue, then the back up Canadians, one of them had a problem with his paperwork.

"So Karl and Darren had to step in. Darren wasn't his normal self at the start of the tournament, but once the two of them connected, they played great."