World number one, Mark Selby, is relieved to be able to play in the World Championship, after struggling with a neck injury recently.
The 28-year-old, who has been drawn to play Barry Hawkins in the first round at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, was forced to pull out of last month’s China Open because of the problem.
The 'Jester from Leicester' has been undergoing treatment on his neck, after being forced to hand Ding Junhui a walkover in the last 16 in China. He has only just returned to the practice table, in preparation for the start of his match against world number 22, Hawkins.
"It's a tough draw. Barry’s a good player, who’s been there before," said Selby. "In all honesty, with the injury problems I've been having, I wasn't bothered who I got, I'm happy just to be playing."
Selby’s best display at The Crucible came five years ago, when he reached the final, only to be beaten 18-13 by John Higgins. He is currently a 10/1 bet in the snooker odds, meaning that a return to the main stage is a distinct possibility.
He has won two ranking event titles - the 2008 Welsh Open, when he edged out Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-8, and last year’s Shanghai Masters, when he he beat Mark Williams 10-9.
However, Selby has also lost four other ranking event finals, apart from his World Championship defeat in 2007.
He lost to David Gray in the final of the Scottish Open, nine years ago, and he was runner-up at last year’s German Masters and the China Open.
Earlier this year he lost 9-6 to Ding Junhui in the final of the Welsh Open.