Jimmy White will not expect to be detained very long when he makes his entrance in the British Open at the Brighton Centre tonight.
The 41-year-old fans’ favourite faces flamboyant Maltese number one Tony Drago for a place in the last 16.
Drago is the fastest potter in the game and holds the record for the quickest ever frame – just three minutes.
His snooker skills have been sharpened during the long summer break by a prodigious sabbatical on the 9-ball pool circuit.
Drago reached the semi-finals of the World Pool Championship in Cardiff and picked up the first prize in the World Pool Masters in Holland.
And the 38-year-old, a professional for 18 years, is feeling confident ahead of what promises to be a mouth-watering clash against a fellow veteran.
“Jimmy and myself are old but we are certainly not boring,” joked Drago.
“As long as I play well, I don’t mind who I am up against. In snooker, it is down to you and you play the table, not your opponent.
“There is no point sitting down in my chair worrying about how good the other guy is.”
Drago, who defeated Nigel Bond 5-2 in the first round, has beaten White three times in seven meetings, although not since the 1994 British Open.
White, beaten 5-4 by Ken Doherty in the last 16 of the first event of the season, last month’s LG Cup at Preston, beat Drago 10-6 to win the £200,000 top prize in the 1991 World Masters in Birmingham.
A year later, he compiled one of only five Crucible 147 breaks at the Embassy World Championship, earning a bear-hug from Drago, whom he went on to beat 10-4.
White is still ranked inside the elite top 16 in the world at 15th but has not won a ranking title since the 1992 UK Championship.
Snooker’s other red-hot crowd favourite, ‘Rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan, held off a spirited performance from Stephen Maguire last night to reach the last 16.
O’Sullivan trailed 3-2 before advancing a 5-3 winner and now meets Australian Quinten Hann, who also won the last three frames to beat Tavistock’s Andy Hicks 5-3, for a place in the quarter-finals.
Defending champion Paul Hunter missed out on a £20,000 bonus for a 147 break but was still a happy man after beating Shaun Murphy 5-2.
Hunter failed to pot the difficult 15th red down the side cushion as his effort stalled at 112.
He faces world number 12 David Gray in the last 16 after the reigning Scottish Open champion beat Nick Dyson 5-2.
Matthew Stevens, the world number nine from Carmarthen, trounced Romford’s Mark King 5-1 while Stephen Lee, the former LG Cup and Scottish Open champion, beat Hong Kong’s Marco Fu 5-2.