Ben Mertens reached the last 16 of a world ranking event for the first time at the 2023 Welsh Open.
Aged just 18, the talented Belgian player scored wins against Barry Pinches, Jackson Page and David Gilbert in Llandudo, before ultimately losing out 4-0 to seven-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Mertens reached the third qualifying round of the World Championship for the first time later in 2023, victories against Brazil’s Victor Sarkis and fellow Belgian Julien Leclercq, preceding a 10-6 defeat to Jimmy Robertson in Sheffield.
Mertens qualified for the World Snooker Tour for the first time following his victory at the 2022 EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championship in Albania.
The talented Belgian player first announced himself on the international stage at the 2018 Paul Hunter Classic, when he defeated professional Adam Stefanow aged just 13 in the opening round.
Mertens secured a notable win against James Cahill at the 2020 World Championship qualifiers, in doing so becoming the youngest player ever to win a match at the event (a record since broken by Welsh youngster Liam Davies in 2022).
A year prior to his breakthrough European Under-21 Championship victory, Mertens also claimed the Under-18 crown, defeating compatriot Julien Leclercq 4-3 in the final.