Well what a weekend that was! I'm still getting over all that’s happened over in Mulheim in the Kreativ Dental Ruhr Open and I hope I can chill out and come back to earth before I play in York on Thursday.
To win there and, by doing so, win back to back Euro Tour events is extremely pleasing. It's good to know that win or lose, the things I'm working on, on and off the table, are the right things and given the chance, I can have a good run in any event.
I've spent the last weeks since the International Championship and Champion of Champions events back hard at practise in Urmston Conservative Club. Last week my coach Chris Henry came over from his home in Bruges for an intensive three-day practice session. We left no stone unturned, working on all areas of the game and I went to Germany feeling like I was on the verge of playing some good stuff.
I do seriously believe also that working closely with the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital has helped me to understand that a loss in a snooker tournament really isn't that important in the big scheme of things. In fact whenever I lose a match I care about it so much, but no one else really does. So I'm learning to just move on, realise how lucky I am and get back to the practice table for next time.
I played some good stuff on Saturday winning my three games to get through to Sunday. On the way I had two good chances for maximum 147 breaks but they went begging. Any time they come along you know it's a sign of good things to come. And they don't come round too often. In my last-16 game against Joe Swail, I started well and in frame 2 found myself with a great chance to take the 147. I was so nervous and could sense the crowd were too and in the end, missed a pretty easy blue to the middle, a pure twitch under pressure. Rightly so, I endured some serious ribbing for it afterwards in the players’ lounge as is common on tour and part of the banter we all love as sports people. What they didn't see though was that I had another good chance in the final frame against Joe. This time breaking down on 73, I think, before having to play the pink. Should've kept that to myself, shouldn’t I!?
In the next match with Mark Williams I had another glorious chance for the max. Taking extra care of the reds, having messed up four chances already in two days, I got to the colours determined to clear up. A kick on the yellow left me short on the green but I still should've potted it. As I watched it crawl towards the pocket my heart was pounding as it leaned over the edge, had a look and said no! I even tried nudging the table – all in jest of course – to knock the ball in. All I ended up doing was hurting my leg!! Cue more abuse from Mr Williams.
The semi final against Judd was always going to be tough and with him having won a few games from behind I wasn't sure if his name wasn't already on the trophy but at 0-3 I refused to drop my head. Digging in and trying to the last I forced the decider. We both had chances and in the end I scraped over the line to await either Milkins or Maguire. Robert played superbly beating Stephen 4-1 in not very long at all and having lost to him in China a few weeks ago 1-6 knew I had to play well to stand a chance. I started brightly enough and as the referee racked the balls for frame 2, I wondered if the snooker Gods would grant me one more 147 attempt. As Rob’s safety shot fell short of baulk I decided there and then I was going for the max. It was a great break until I reached the last red. As soon a I hit the cue-ball I knew I wasn't quite there and I couldn't look. When I did I could barely see enough to pot it let alone play for the black. Make sure of the red I thought and see what happens. Well when I clipped the black in and finished perfectly on the yellow I couldn't believe it but still had to finish the job. Every ball was a pressure shot but this time they all went in and my celebration showed how much it meant to me. The reaction from the crowd was unbelievable...one of the best experiences of my snooker life to date and thank you to everyone that was there and made it special. To go on and win the final was of course the most important thing and to win 4-0 very pleasing.
And so on to the Coral UK Championship in York this week. Enough has been written about this event over the years and everyone knows how important the BBC majors are to us players. Anything but a win leaves you disappointed but of course there can only be one winner so 127 of us will leave York scratching our heads. All I can say is that I'll certainly go as well prepared for it as I've ever been, and with more practising this week to come, my match against James Wattana on Thursday night should definitely be a cracker.
Until next time,
All the best...Shaun