UK Championship: Steven Hallworth set for Mark Williams test

Mark Williams
Williams, who Hallworth will face at York, won the World Championship in 2000 and 2003

Emerging snooker star Steven Hallworth is convinced he has matured a great deal as a player but says his UK Championship meeting with Mark Williams will be a true test of his progress.

The 18-year-old from Lincolnshire was beaten 4-0 by the Welshman in the Belgium Open in Antwerp last year.

Hallworth told BBC Sport: "You can't really get much tougher than playing a two-time world champion.

"I was an amateur when I played him and was nervous. But I've matured a lot."

World number 111 Hallworth is in his first season on the World Snooker circuit having earned his two-year tour card and faces Williams in the first round of the open draw format at York's Barbican on Wednesday.

Sharing a table with snooker royalty
"I have practised with Ronnie O'Sullivan a couple of times and he has given me a few pointers. That's a bit surreal - playing against the world's greatest ever player."

He admitted that the anxiety of facing one of only nine men to have won snooker's Triple Crown - the World and UK Championships and Masters - and being in front of the television cameras was a little too much for him the last time they met.

"I was nervous anyway and it was my first time on the telly and I didn't play well," Hallworth said.

"I found myself taking on pots I shouldn't have and playing safe when I should have been going for my shots.

"But the experience was great. I have definitely matured as a player and am much more settled.

"I have no expectations about beating Mark Williams; I can't expect to beat him, but I can beat him if I play really well. I just need to chill out a bit and enjoy it."

Steven Hallworth
Steven Hallworth is in his first year on the professional tour

Hallworth, from Skellingthorpe, said his natural instinct remains to play an attacking game, but he is learning to mix and match more.

"I am quite attacking and like to get things open," he said.

"The strongest part of my game is my long-potting. I am not into the tip-tapping about but I am working hard on my safety too.

"You obviously need to have all aspects to your game."

Hallworth's talent was nurtured by his father, who spotted his son's ability at an early age.

"I picked up a cue when I was really young and started playing pool and got a six foot table," he recalled.

"My dad clicked I could play a bit and it's turned out well. I am loving everything about it."

But his chosen career is still taking a bit of getting used to.

"I have practised with Ronnie O'Sullivan a couple of times and he has given me a few pointers," he added. "That's a bit surreal - playing against the world's greatest ever player."

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