A RETURN to the Cazoo World Snooker Championship is Ashley Hugill’s stand-out goal for 2023.

World number 85 Hugill qualified for the World Championship main draw for the first time since turning professional in April.

The Melbourne talent progressed through qualifying after five previous unsuccessful attempts during his five-year career.

Hugill suffered a 10-5 defeat to third seed Neil Robertson in the first round but made an admirable showing on his Crucible debut, at one stage leading 3-1.

Looking ahead to 2023, the 28-year-old has set a Sheffield return as his main ambition.

“I’d love to play at the Crucible again,” Hugill enthused. “That’s a big goal and a big target of mine, trying to get there again.

“Playing there last season was great. It was everything I thought it would be and more.

“I can’t wait to play there again. I know that I will at some point and hopefully it’s this season.

“It’s definitely the best event I’ve ever played in.”

Hugill, who reached the English Open quarter-finals last month, his best-ever showing in a ranking event, added: “I just want to keep winning matches and build on what I’ve just achieved.

“I’ll keep striving to move up the rankings.”

With the qualifiers for the Six Red World Championship kicking off next Saturday (January 7), Hugill has remained diligent in his practice on the table over the Christmas period.

His training is not just limited to potting balls though. A keen runner, Hugill has stressed the importance of exercise in aiding his snooker.

Hugill insisted: “Fitness for snooker players is under-rated. A lot of players aren’t as fit as they should be.

“I actually ran my first marathon last summer. I just did it on my own, running from my house to the Peak District. I was really proud of myself doing that.

“I’ve been running since I left school, so I can’t say that because I ran a marathon I got that result (at the English Open). It was just something that I wanted to achieve.”