Happy New Year to you all! I hope 2015 is a great year for you.
It didn’t start so well for me, though. Whilst away in Ireland for the holidays I ended up with a bacterial chest infection that completely floored me. I haven’t been that ill for years and really struggled as it took hold. I spent the first four or five days of 2015 huddled under a blanket shivering, trying to keep warm and watching Indiana Jones re-runs on television. It was a shame though as 2014 ended on such a high, as many of you will know now, myself and my partner got engaged over Christmas and so 2014 couldn’t have ended better for us.
Unfortunately though, my illness meant that I was in no state at all to make the trip to Crondon for the Championship League event last week. It was the first time in my professional career that I’ve had to pull out of an event and not something that I enjoyed very much. Certainly not the way I wanted to start the New Year. My doctor told me that under no circumstances was I to make the trip and that I was to stay at home and finish my course of antibiotics if I had any intention of making it to the Masters.
Well, I’m pleased to say that doctor’s orders worked and I was well enough to go to the Masters at the weekend. But it wasn’t to get any easier for me as I walked straight into my old mate and World Champion Mark Selby in the first round on Sunday. He started so brightly with a century in the first frame and I thought he would go from strength to strength like he did to me there last year.
But 90 mins or so later I found myself 5-1 ahead needing just one more to win. Unfortunately, about an hour later, I still needed that one frame and as we shook hands at 5-5 I thought I’d thrown it away. I was just pleased that I got a chance to win the game and that it wasn’t over in one visit. We both could’ve won but in the end I ended up making a good 40-something which, in the end, saw me over the line. Credit to Mark though, he wouldn’t let me go that easily and, needing four snookers to tie, he carried on still trying to win. There’s probably no one in the game who is better at winning from behind than Mark and I knew all along he would come back at me. That’s why he’s been so successful over recent years and is a true ambassador for our game.
As for me now, I’m back at home and going to spend the rest of the week practising and working on a few things before returning to Ally Pally for my next game against either Stephen Maguire or Judd Trump on Friday night. I’m certainly going to enjoy watching everyone go through the mill like Mark and I did with my feet up with a coffee at home.
Enjoy the snooker this week guys, it’s going to be a bit special I think.
All the best,