Ben Woollaston has enjoyed a trip to Wimbledon to see his tennis hero Novak Djokovic ahead of the new snooker campaign.
Woollaston lost out by one point in finishing runner-up to Belgium number one Luca Brecel at the Championship League in Milton Keynes when snooker emerged from an enforced three-month lockdown last June due to the global pandemic, but is hoping to go one better in his home city of Leicester later this month.
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The new season gets underway at Morningside Arena on Sunday 18 July with the world number 46 breaking off on Wednesday 21 July in group 28 of the 128-man Championship League event alongside Barry Hawkins, Zak Surety and Kuldesh Johal.
34-year-old Woollaston watched Wimbledon champion Djokovic defeat Christian Garin on Centre Court to seal his spot in the last eight of this year's event at the All England Club.
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“I’ve been on centre court before and seen Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Andy Murray, but Novak Djokovic is my favourite player by a mile and I’d never seen him play," said Woollaston.
He doesn’t get all that much support from the crowd, but it was amazing for me to see him for the first time.
“The seats were fantastic. They were just to the side of the Royal Box. Wherever you are sat on Centre Court, it is an amazing view, but these were very good seats. They weren’t in the Royal Box, but we did spot that Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield were just ten or 11 rows away from us."
Woollaston and fellow Leicester professionals Tom Ford, Louis Heathcote and Joe O’Connor will be hoping to make a strong impression with the Morningside Arena set to welcome back fans at next month's revived British Open with world champion Mark Selby likely to be a key attraction for locals.
After reaching the last 16 twice in ranking events last season, Woollaston – who lost 9-3 to John Higgins in the final of the 2015 Welsh Open – has decided to give meat a miss as he bids to get his teeth into the new season.
“I’m am eating fish sometimes, but I haven’t had any meat for nearly 18 months now," Woollaston told World Snooker.
I just feel happier doing that and it is an easy enough thought for me really. I was on the verge of a vegan diet before, but now I do have cheese and things like that. I suppose I’m classed as a pescatarian now!
“I generally felt happy with how I played last season, but I was hit hard in terms of my ranking by losing in the first round at the UK Championship and the World Championship. Hopefully this year I can go on a deep run. I feel ready to go on one.”
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