Noppon Saengkham says he is relishing the opportunity to face his "hero" Ronnie O’Sullivan in the fourth round of the UK Championship.
Saengkham progressed with a dramatic 6-5 win over 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham, who fought back from 5-0 down to force a decider.
Saengkham knocked in a break of 121 to clinch victory and set up a meeting with seven-time champion O’Sullivan, who had won earlier in the day against Mark King.
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“It’s my target to play against Ronnie O’Sullivan, because I want to learn something from him,” said Saengkham, who has lost both his previous meetings against O'Sullivan.
"If I’m good enough, I can beat him in the next match, so I hope I can do very well against him.
“Ronnie and Mark Selby are both of my heroes, and that’s why I’m very excited to play with Ronnie – I’m so happy to play with him.”
Saengkham made an impressive start against Bingham as he fired in breaks of 131, 64, 61, 56, and 53 to open up a commanding lead.
But he then had to hold his nerve in the 11th frame after Bingham’s stirring comeback.
“When I was 5-0 up, I had a lot of confidence,” world No 45 Saengkham added to World Snooker Tour.
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“I really enjoyed it, I had no safety today and I tried to fight for every ball to get the shot. When it was 5-5 I was still happy, and I believed I can win.”
“I went to the toilet and told myself that I’m really happy to play with the (former) world champion. Whether I would win or lose the next frame, I was so happy.
“So when I went back to the game, I just told myself to believe and give me one shot. He gave me the shot and I cleared up, it was very exciting.”
O’Sullivan beat King 6-3 to book his place in the fourth round.
The 45-year-old has said he is applying himself as if it is “one last go”, given he remains unsure how long he has got left in his career.
“When you apply yourself you don’t get flustered, you don’t lose your rag. I have to work at all that, it doesn’t come naturally to me, so in some ways it’s good because you’re learning how to control your emotions basically. It’s not easy, it doesn’t come easy to me anyway.
“I do find once I do it, you do become a much harder player to beat. At least I’m playing out there, I’m here trying to squeeze every bit of juice out of it that I can, whereas maybe last year or so I’ve just been trying to enjoy it a lot and if it’s there, great, if it wasn’t, I was just happy to take some time off.
“I just thought, I don’t know how long I’ve got left in my career, I might as well try and give it one last go and see if I’ve still got it. If I haven’t, no big deal, but we’ll just keep punching.”
You can stream the 2021 UK Championship live and on demand on discovery+ and watch all the action live via Eurosport and at eurosport.co.uk
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