A step in the right direction.
Last week, we had the qualifiers for the European Championship and the International Championship in Preston, UK. After suffering back-to-back first round defeats at the Indian Open and Shanghai Masters qualifiers, it was very important for me to get on the board this season and put in some good performances.
At the European Championships I was drawn to play Judd Trump (World #4) In Round 1. Against a player like Judd, it was very important to get off to a good start. Even more so with the format being a best of 7 frames. While I didn’t quite settle early, I made a very crucial 60 odd clearance in the second frame to get on the board. It was a huge confidence boost and I went on to make breaks of 74 and 108 but it wasn’t quite enough as I went down 4-3. Despite the loss, it was a hugely encouraging performance and something to build on.
Four days later at the International Championship qualifiers, I was drawn to play Jack Lisowski (World #44) in a best of 11 Round 1 match. The International has been one of my favorite events. It was my first venue stage of a pro ranking event when I qualified for it in 2012, going on to beat Stuart Bingham and getting to the Last 16 in Chengdu. This time though, under the circumstances, it was extremely important to follow up that performance against Judd with another strong display. A lot of good work had been done in the previous month with a few technical improvements, which seemed to be making a big difference. But once you get out there in the arena, it’s all about your level of focus and clarity. In a bit of a seesaw battle, I managed to pull ahead 4-2, only to be pulled back to 4-4 in no time. I held myself together after that to secure a 6-4 victory and qualifying for the venue stages in Daqing, China later this month. It is a very important first win of the season for me after returning from injury.
All in all, it’s been a successful week and I look forward to continuing this progress, one step at a time. The good thing is that I am really enjoying my snooker at the moment and that’s the key. The world of professional Snooker is brutally tough and it’s important to savor the good moments.
Next week we move on to the inaugural English Open, part of the new Home Series (English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish Opens). I hope I have more good news when I write again.
Until Next Time
P.S: I’m proud to say that my sponsor’s logo (www.rkgsnooker.com) will be making its debut in China later this month. J Wouldn’t be here without them. Keep logging on for all the latest updates from me and the rest of the Snooker World.