Back where I belong
Walking out into that Wembley Arena tomorrow as Masters champion will be a fantastic occasion. Having been in the last three finals and lifting that coveted title twice, I really feel as if it is my tournament. That’s not me being over-confident, it’s just the way I feel about a tournament that I love playing in.
I’ve got a great record there and I feel very privileged to have won one title, never mind two. It’s such a prestigious tournament with a fantastic history, and some of the world’s greatest players have won it. I love the atmosphere there too – last year’s final was the best I’ve ever played in.
A few of the players don’t like it so much, because the crowd can get noisy, probably noisier than at any other tournament on the circuit, especially when the London lads like Ronnie and Jimmy are playing. But it doesn’t bother me, maybe because I’m more used to that kind of thing because of my background playing pool. I love the one-table set-up too, it really suits my game. Every time I walk out there to play, no matter what round it is, I feel like I’m in a final.
As defending champion, I know I’m there to be shot at, I’m the hunted one. That doesn’t put any more pressure on me, it just means I will take it one match at a time. I play Mark King in the first round, and that will be tough. He is a difficult opponent and a great match-player, but I know that if I go into it with my A game, I can beat him.
I had the perfect start to the new year by winning the opening group in the Championship League. It was a tough group with six of the top eight players in the world involved, so it was a no-brainer to play in it. In one way I wouldn’t have minded if I was still in it because it would mean I could carry on sharpening my game against some top players, but winning was the perfect start to the new year.
I’m always confident going into the Masters, but this was a brilliant boost and I hope I will be lifting that prestigious title once again a week tomorrow.
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