Ding Junhui slammed World Snooker’s decision to re-admit fans at the Masters in January, after seeing his defence of the UK Championship come crashing down at the hands of David Grace.
The 33-year-old had expressed his concern about the prospect of fans being allowed to attend the latter stages of the ongoing tournament, and while they won’t be present in Milton Keynes, it is hoped that up to 1,000 supporters will be welcomed into each session at Alexandra Palace.
Ding believes it is an unnecessary risk being taken too early, and questioned his involvement at the coveted invitational event, which he won back in 2011.
“I must admit I don’t feel 100 per cent safe – I’ll have to have a big think about whether I go or not,” said Ding, the world No.10. “You can’t just let people in as if it’s normal. It’s not a normal year.
“There are one or two players testing positive at every tournament, so it’s just going to be made worse. People don’t seem to care about other people’s lives.
“All I can do is try and keep myself safe, but I’m not going to make a final decision just yet.”
Back on the baize, Ding insisted a poor table prevented him from finding his best form against Grace, who had reached the semi-finals of a ranking event for just the second time at last week’s Northern Ireland Open.
Ding put himself on the brink of victory in the best-of-11 match at 5-3 with five half-centuries in tow, but world No.65 Grace hit back with three successive frames to prevail 6-5 and book a Round 3 clash against Xiao Guodong.
“Even the practice table is much better than table one,” said Ding. “It was unplayable and it was the same in my previous match.
“It’s a great tournament so it should have the best tables. Everything was bouncing around, there was no spin on the table and I couldn’t play.
“My actual game was OK really but if you can’t get into positions and play with spin it’s not going to work.
“David played really well, especially coming back from 5-3 down. I gave him some chances and played some bad safety shots, but he fought hard and credit to him.”