Davis relishing Crucible quest

Mark Davis. Picture courtesy Monique Limbos
Mark Davis. Picture courtesy Monique Limbos

Mark Davis will line-up in the televised stage of the Betfred.com World Snooker Championship next week.

The St Leonards talent will face Ali Carter in round one at The Crucible in Sheffield after beating Robert Milkins 10-5 in the final round of the qualifiers on Saturday.

Davis told Observer Sport: “I think it’s my seventh or eighth time and it’s always nice to play there. I’ve had a couple of painful ones there to be honest and it’s not a great place to play if it goes wrong.

“It’s a very tight arena, but I’ve played reasonably well there a couple of times as well. It’s where you want to play and I’m looking forward to it.”

Davis plans to travel up to Yorkshire on Monday with good friend and fellow competitor Barry Hawkins. His best-of-19 frames match will begin at 7pm on Wednesday with the second session following at 1pm on Thursday.

Carter is the lowest ranked of the seeded players at number 17, while Davis is the highest ranked of the qualifiers at number 18 so an interesting match lies in prospect.

“Ali’s not playing as well as he has in the past, but he’s had a few health problems and this one (tournament) normally brings the best out of players anyway,” continued Davis.

“It’s still a tough draw and he’s a top player. If you don’t play well against any of the top 16, whoever you play, you’re not going to win. I’ll just concentrate on playing my own game, that’s all you can do.”

Davis has been knocking on the door of a place in top 16 of the rankings for the first time throughout the season, but he has a lot of points to defend in the World Championship having reached the last 16 in 2010.

He went on: “I would love to get in the top 16. I was very close in the PTC and didn’t quite make it. We’ll keep having a go and trying to get in there.

“But it’s not as big a deal now as it used to be because of all the cut-off points in the season. Most of my career I’ve been in the 30s and 40s, and the higher up the rankings you go the more you expect of yourself.

“It has been a good season, but I’ve not really gone deep in many tournaments which is a bit disappointing. Overall it’s been consistent.”

Davis was pleased with his performance against Milkins. He led 6-3 after the first session with top breaks of 72, 84 and 73, and added the four he needed in the second session with a best effort of 88.

Milkins, the world no.37 from Gloucester, knocked out Stephen Maguire and reigning World Champion John Higgins en route to the semi-finals of the Haikou World Open six weeks ago.

And the 36-year-old compiled a maximum 147 break in seeing off world no.46 Xiao Guodong, from China, 10-4 in the penultimate round of the World Championship Qualifiers.

Davis added: “It was a very tough draw. To be honest he’s a top 32 player and he’s one of the toughest two or three you could’ve had. I knew it was going to be a tough game.

“I played really solid to be honest. Nothing spectacular, I didn’t have lots and lots of breaks. I was lucky to be 2-2. He was unlucky to get a kick in the second frame when he only needed the red.

“I cleared the last three reds and that settled me down. I did the same in the fourth frame when it could’ve been 3-1 (to Milkins) and I went 6-2 (ahead) after that.

“In patches I’m playing as well as I ever have done, but I think it’s more consistency to be honest. And if I’m not playing that great, my B game is a little bit better than it was in the past when I would either be good or rubbish.

“I feel good. The mental side is a huge part of this game and it’s not been great in the past. But I’ve been working with Terry Griffiths and it’s certainly working.

“He’s been a great help to me. Even in a short time it’s made a big difference. It’s still not perfect, but it’s a lot better than it was.”