Lee hails ‘best ever’ clearance

Having sealed his place in the last 32 of the World Championship where he will meet Ryan Day, Stephen Lee has been talking about how pleased he is just to be there and where he is with his game at the moment…

Stephen told www.thisiswiltshire.co.uk:

“It was a massive win in one of the biggest games in my career,”

“I couldn’t consider not going to the Crucible even in an up-and-down season like this one.

“I knew my form was just around the corner and my last clearance against Judd was the best I’ve ever done.

“It was 9-8, looking like being 9-9 and I was 58 behind.

“I made 59 to win the game and it was a massive relief. Even the referee said he didn’t know where I found that.

“A lot of players said to me afterwards it was one of the best they had ever seen.

“I didn’t realise what I’d done at first as I was so focused. I just wish I’d had this determination all year.”

“I grew up with Ronnie and used to beat him all the time as a kid and I don’t think he’s ever forgiven me for it,” Lee.

“Ronnie spends extra time getting himself ready for big tournaments but I’ve never done that before.

“However I’m going to the China Open first at the end of this month, where I’ll play Mark Selby, and will just let my arm go and try to keep my form going into the World Championships. I don’t feel as though there is any pressure on me at the moment.

“I was at a loose end last year when I was putting in hour after hour of practice but not getting anywhere.

“I was at the stage where I’d rather watch my kids grow up and enjoy the smiles on their faces than be in-volved in the pressure cooker of professional snooker.

“Sport is all about confidence and it’s been hard to find. But now I’ve got half a chance of getting back into the top 16 and I’m enjoying the game again.

Having witnessed the clearance in the final frame myself (read more here), I have to agree with Stephen, I can’t remember him making one as good as that before and that is saying something. It was thrilling to watch and while the difficulty just seemed to increase with every shot, he kept knocking them in and as a result he fully deserved to win the match for me.

How far he can go at the Crucible remains to be seen, though I have to say I do quite like his draw up until the quarter-finals at least. Sure Ryan Day is no mug, but he has not enjoyed a great run recently and both Peter Ebdon and Nigel Bond who he could face in the last 16 have not exactly enjoyed stellar seasons to date.

Whilst I cannot quite see him getting into the top 16 for next season, he has certainly put himself in a decent position on the one-year rankings and I would not be at all surprised to see him push on and return for the 2010/11 season. Time will tell…