Liang Wenbo has been forced to withdraw from the BildBet German Masters after contracting COVID-19.
The 34-year-old was scheduled to play Andrew Higginson in the first round of the tournament, but his diagnosis means that he will be forced to isolate at home and not travel.
No replacement has been called up, so Higginson will receive a bye through to the last 16.
It’s the latest setback for Liang, who has only twice progressed past the first round of ranking events during the 2021/22 season so far.
He is a former semi-finalist at the Tempodrom in Berlin.
The German Masters has returned following a pandemic hiatus and Liang would have been itching to return to a happy hunting ground.
There were green shoots of recovery in the left-hander’s game when he reached the semi-finals of the Snooker Shoot-Out in January, losing out to eventual champion Hossein Vafaei.
On his way to the last four, Liang had defeated former Masters champion Mark Allen and the talented Oliver Lines, and so confidence would indeed have been returning to his game.
The Chinese player missed out on a place at the Players Championship after failing to accrue enough qualifying points, and so his attention will now turn to the European Masters which starts the last week of February.
The next ranking event on the schedule is the Players Championship in Wolverhampton, where 16 of the world’s best players will lock horns as preparations for the World Championship in April begin to gather pace.
The likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Williams and Neil Robertson have already guaranteed their place in the field, but there will be a number of surprise omissions.
Four-time world champion Mark Selby and Triple Crown winner Shaun Murphy both miss out, having not done enough to qualify.
In contrast, former World Championship semi-finalist Anthony McGill missed out by the small matter of £500 in prize money.