DING JUNHUI has been helping potter Paul Davison hone his game ahead of a World Championship charge.
As the Pickering professional starts his bid to reach the Crucible with a first round qualifying match against Chris Wakelin today, he revealed he has been sparring with the Chinaman - who has won an incredible five ranking events this season and reached the final of a sixth.
Davison also put himself through a seven hour best-of-19 frames ordeal against former world champion Peter Ebdon in a bid to ensure he is battle hardened as he faces up to the challenge of Wakelin.
The world number 105 shocked Ryan Day at the UK Championship in York, last November, before bowing out in a final frame decider with Jamie Burnett in the second round.
He has found times tougher since but, having been matched up in subsequent tournaments against top ten players Judd Trump, Mark Allen and Stephen Maguire, he promises to pose a tough opening obstacle at the Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield.
But 74-ranked Davison, who has had several weeks to work on his snooker since playing Alan McManus in an Asian PTC event at the start of last month, says the work he has put in has left him in good shape.
"I feel good. I played Ding in Sheffield and we had three best-of-nine frames matches. It was 2-2 midway through the first and then he hit 70, 80 and 90. It was 2-2 in the second before he scored 80, 90 and 100 and I beat him 5-3 in the final game," he said.
"I played Peter Ebdon and I was 3-1 down, 5-2 behind and 7-4 but got it back to 9-9 before, after six or seven hours, he won the match on the last black. I've also beaten Gary Wilson and Joel Walker.
"Ding has won five events this year and been in another final so it was great to play him and I really enjoyed it. I'll be trying to get down to Sheffield more often."
On his match with Wakelin, he added: "It's going to be tough. It's one of the toughest openers I could have had. I haven't seem him play that much but I know he's had some good results. It means you have to be ready from shot one and it makes you practice harder and concentrate better."
Davison, as a Yorkshireman who has attended World Championship matches at the Crucible for a quarter of a century, said it remains a huge ambition to play in the hallowed arena and added: "It would be up there with winning an event.
"It would be a dream to qualify for the event and I could die a happy man. It's going to be hard but it is the same for everyone. If I can play well, and take my chances, then I will be there or thereabouts."
The opening session of the best-of-19 match gets under way at 10am with the concluding evening session starting at 7pm.