Luca Brecel joins Zhao Xintong in achieving big goals after strong starts to the season

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Luca Brecel is eyeing big strides this season (Image: Getty Images)

Luca Brecel is aiming to be in the top four in the world by the end of the season Zhao Xintong is aiming for first place in the rankings.

Two of last season’s stars have started the new season strong, with Zhao topping his first Championship League group on Wednesday and Brecel doing the same on Friday.

The Cyclone won the UK Championship and German Masters last season and finished the campaign sixth in the world, while the Belgian Bullet’s run to the UK Final and then victory at the Scottish Open helped him finish 12th.

Brecel expects to be able to climb in earnest in the coming months and faces a tough challenge to snag the elite in the top four on the leaderboard.

After winning his Championship League group, Brecel said: “I played some really good stuff in all my games today, took a lot of breaks and felt like I was the best player in the group. I’m really happy to be at the front of the group.

“I train a lot during the summer and play some really good stuff in practice so it’s not a surprise but it’s always nice to do it on the gaming table.

“I feel like I’m playing a lot better than last season, so hopefully it’ll be a good season again.

“I don’t have a lot of points to defend this season so it’s all up. If I can get some good results like last season, maybe I could finish in the top four by the end of the season, so there’s a lot to play for.

“I feel really good, relaxed and playing well. It’s good.’

Zhao is a little less optimistic, but when asked if he wants to top the world rankings, he says it’s something he’s aiming for in the near future and he intends to improve on his memorable results from last season.

“I want to be better than last year and I want to do my best. I’ll give everything to win the games and the tournament,” said the 25-year-old.

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Zhao Xintong has been tipped as future world number one (Picture: Getty Images)

‘The idea of ​​becoming number one in the world in the future sounds good. Hopefully I can do it.”

Another player to top the Championship League group this week was Anthony Hamilton, who celebrated his 51st birthday while noting victories against Noppon Saengkham and Steven Hallworth.

The Pottingham Sheriff reckons Zhao could even top the rankings this season but admits it will be difficult.

“Of course he’s good enough,” Hamilton told “He could do it this season, right? He’s starting from a strong position as he hasn’t scored many points.

“But he would need to keep winning tournaments to become world number one, look at Neil [Robertson]he wins about five tournaments a year and he’s not number one that often.

“You have to win the world championships or you’re in trouble, world number one.”

Anthony Hamilton expects Zhao to reach the top of snooker (Image: Getty Images)

Hamilton has seen it all on stage, still touring after turning pro in 1991, and he rates Zhao as highly as anything he’s seen in years.

“I think he’s the best thing I’ve seen in snooker since Ding [Junhui]. It’s just a joy to watch Xintong play, it really is,” the sheriff said.

“He makes the game look like… what are the rest of us playing? He makes it look so easy. It’s a natural.

“He has the easiest cue action that I think we have in the game, that’s the best in all sports, the easiest actions that don’t go wrong.

“He’s been here for a couple of years and we snooker players were like, what are you doing? Just focus and you will start winning tournaments and now he is.’

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General Sports Luca Brecel joins Zhao Xintong in achieving big goals after strong starts to the season

Nate Jones

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