It’s not uncommon for non-British players to acquire British nicknames when they come to the UK – James Wattana an obvious example.
So it is that Cao Yupeng is known as Eric, following a long line of famous Erics including Blair, Sykes, Cantona and indeed my old friend Eric Whitehead, who was for many years snooker’s leading photographer and whose long career included him hiding from Alex Higgins while rolled up in a carpet and being mistaken for a Russian bridge player by friends of Jeffrey Archer, earning him the nickname ‘Cossack.’
Cao is the last Chinese player left standing in the Wuxi Classic and today makes his debut in a world ranking event quarter-final.
He’ll have his work cut out because Neil Robertson is continuing his fine form and is cutting something of a swathe through the top half of the draw.
But Cao has home support and is capable of producing the goods. He beat Mark Allen at the Crucible in 2012 and John Higgins at the International Championship last season.
The semi-final could be Cao-Milkins, which if you mispronounce the Chinese’s name and are easily pleased is quite amusing for about seven seconds.
Robert Milkins must first beat Anthony Hamilton, who didn’t play his best but still well enough to put away a strangely subdued Mark Williams yesterday.
Hamilton’s best performances have always been when he’s scored heavily, which he can do with considerable panache, but he can also scrap it out with the best of them. The only problem with this game is that it takes away natural fluency. Milkins, though, gets on with it so this could be a free flowing affair.
Joe Perry’s confidence at the moment is such that he will fancy the job against John Higgins, who hasn’t really been pushed yet.
Davy Morris meanwhile has gone from Q School to a world ranking event quarter-final in the space of the month. If this era is about seizing opportunities then Morris is proof of what can be achieved.
His opponent today is Matthew Stevens, who won a match against Peter Lines yesterday which did not exactly get the pulses racing. In fact at times it was dire.
The Welshman, though, is through and that’s all that really matters. The field has thinned out considerably from a starting field of 68. Players will be looking around thinking there aren’t many others there, so they have every chance of pocketing Sunday’s £80,000 top prize.