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Snooker: Ricky Walden of Bagillt reaches highest-ever place in world rankings

FLINTSHIRE snooker star Ricky Walden will end the year in his highest ever position in the world rankings.

The 28-year-old from Bagillt is up to 15th in the latest standings – the first time he has broken into the top 16 in his professional career.

It is reward for his excellent performances in the Players Tour Championship (PTC) and his last-eight finish in the World Open.

Walden, who was born in Chester and has now moved to the city, will receive automatic qualification for next year’s German Masters and the Welsh Open as a result.

But first up for the former Shanghai Masters champion is a shot at the all-new World Snooker Shoot-Out in Blackpool.

Walden, whose career started in the Deeside Snooker League, will face world number 32 Joe Perry in the first round of the innovative one-frame knockout event that runs from January 28-30 at the Circus Arena.

Frames will last a maximum of 10 minutes, with a 20 second shot-click for the first five minutes and 15 seconds for the last five.

Meanwhile, Walden has been drawn against Chinese ace Liang Wenbo in the first round of the Players Tour Championship Grand Finals at The Helix in Dublin in March. The winner will take on world number five Shaun Murphy, who topped the PTC Order of Merit, in the last 16.