Dec 22 2011 by Paul Wheelock, Chester Chronicle
RICKY Walden will start the new year as one of the most in-form players in world snooker after he continued his storming end to 2011.
Fresh from reaching the semi-finals of the UK Championship, the Chester-born player continued his hot streak with strong showings in the latest rounds of the Players Tour Championship (PTC).
The 29-year-old reached the quarter-finals of PTC 11 at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield – the venue where he hit the first 147 break of his career last month – by beating Barry Hawkins 4-0, Ian McCulloch 4-2 and Sam Craigie 4-2.
But Walden, who is up four places to 18 in the world rankings, saw his run come to an end on Monday when he lost 4-1 to 2006 world champion Graeme Dott.
Walden’s first event of 2012 will be the conclusion of the 12th and final round of the PTC series.
Sixteen players will go head-to-head in Munich from January 6-8 – and the former Shanghai Masters champion will be among them after he came through last week’s qualifiers in Sheffield.
Walden edged out Liu Song 4-3 and Gerard Greene 4-2 before sweeping aside world number nine Ding Junhui 4-0 in the last 32 to set up a final-16 Munich showdown against Xiao Guodong.
Walden sits 13th in the PTC Order of Merit. The top 24 advance to the championship’s Grand Final in March.