Betfred World Championship 2009: Pre-tournament quotes round-up

Just two days to go now, click below to read what some of the players have to say ahead of the 2009 World Championship. Have updated Ali Carter’s quotes at the bottom as he has come out with some real fighting talk regarding Ronnie O’Sullivan who he predicts will not make the final…

Rory McLeod has told the Sheffield Star:

“I’m making history, it’s a great achievement,”

“It’s incredible that there’s never been a black player at the World Championship before.

“I don’t know why that is. Snooker can sometimes be seen as a rich man’s sport.

“The standard is so high and I’ve had to work really hard to get here, it’s an amazing feeling to play the Crucible.”

“It’s been hard being a black player, I’m the only one on the professional circuit,”

“I’m not treated any different by the other players, but I’ve had some stupid comments from time to time. It just makes you want to work hard and achieve more.

“It’s brilliant for snooker that I’ve qualified and it should be good for the TV viewing figures, most of the black people in the UK will tune in because they’ve never seen a black guy at the Crucible before.

“I’ll be going there to enjoy myself and hopefully I can stay longer than my first match.”

“Mark’s a great player, he’ll be favourite. But if I win I know that me being in the tournament will raise my profile in snooker, and hopefully more people will be happy to see a black player competing.”

Mark Williams has also told the Sheffield Star:

“It’s been strange because I’m used to getting to all the venues, but I was never worried about going to qualifying,”

“I’ve done it before and I knew certain reasons why I was in the qualifiers and I knew I had to get on with it.

“There was no point moaning about it and if I can get straight back to the top 16 after coming out I think that would be a good feat.”

“There’s room in my trophy cabinet for anything, never mind a world title,”

“I feel in practice in the last six to eight months I’m playing as well, if not better, than I was when I won the World Championship about 300 years ago.

“Obviously the standard in depth has got a lot stronger but I still feel I can win tournaments.”

Barry Hawkins told the Bexley Times:

“I’ve been going too many years not believing in myself enough and not going to tournaments in the right frame of mind,”

“I’ve got to think I can win tournaments – so why not start off with the World Championships?”

“There are players that I’ve grown up with – people like Ali Carter – who have gone on to be successful and, if they can do it, why can’t I? There’s no difference in the standard – it’s just that extra bit of confidence that is needed.”

“I’m due to play in Thailand this July in a six-red tournament. It took place last year as well and proved really popular. Even more of the top players are going this year, so it should be even better.

“It got a lot of coverage out there and there was a massive turnout. All ideas like this are good for the game. It’s about trying to get more people interested in snooker.

Neil Robertson speaks to the Daily Express about his shoulder injury:

“I used one hand to grab a heavy bag, when I should have used two and made it worse by sleeping on it.

“I woke up the following day in a lot of pain and it hasn’t been the ideal preparation, but the physio did a good job and I’m playing again this week.”

“You have to stamp your authority on both a match and a tournament from the off.

“Knowing the matches are longer has made me too relaxed at the start, thinking I could haul it back. I must turn up in the first session.

“It’s never too early to be playing well in a tournament. If you get to the quarter-finals in form, it holds you in good stead.”

Ricky Walden told the Chester Chronicle:

“Everything is in place and I just can’t wait to get there now and play my first match at the Crucible,”

“My preparations could not have gone any better. I’ve been practising with Shaun Murphy over in Sale in Manchester. We played together as juniors so I’ve known him for a long time.

“He’s based up north now so it’s given me the chance to go over this week and practise. He’s a former world champion and without doubt one of the best players in the world, so it’s been a big help.

“The Crucible is the place where you’ve got to step up to the plate, like Shaun did a few years ago. Given the way my preparations have gone, I’m confident I can do that and show that I have what it takes to become a world champion.”

“As long as you go there and prepare in the right way, I don’t see any reason why you should treat it differently to any other tournament,”

“It’s not a different type of snooker, it’s still the same table, you’ve just got to adjust to the atmosphere and the venue.”

Stuart Bingham has told the Echo:

“Don’t get me wrong. That win over Hendry remains one of my proudest moments in the sport.But when people speak to me it’s always about that victory. It would be nice if I was remembered for something else.”

“I know it’s going to be tough as, if he’s in the mood, Ronnie can be on a different planet to the rest of us. He has so much natural ability. Having said that I’m not going there to be beaten. I’ve been striking the balls better recently and will obviously give it all I’ve got.”

“In practically every frame you’ll get at least one opportunity. If you do against Ronnie you must take it. Other players might let you back in if you for a second chance, but it’s unlikely against Ronnie.

“If he starts really flying you can quickly find he’s romping through the frames and, even though this is a 19-frame match over two sessions, you can be virtually out of it before you know.”

“I’d need to make the semi-finals at the Crucible for that [to get into the top 16] to happen,”

“It’s a tall order, but beating Ronnie, undoubtedly the best player in the world, would be quite a start.”

Jamie Cope told the BBC:

“It was amazing playing there last year, and it was definitely my favourite venue, even though I lost against Peter Ebdon.

“It’s going to be good on Monday. Joe’s playing to his potential and he’s going to be hard to stop.”

“If I do get past my first match, I’ll be looking towards the top 16, but the first match is the main thing and anything past that will be good.

“It would be nice to be at all the tournaments and that’s what you’re aiming for.”

Stephen Hendry has told The Daily Record:

“I would not still be playing if I didn’t think I was good enough.

“But it’s about what happens on the day – there are no easy matches at the Crucible.

“In years gone by you might have had a few easy matches up to the quarter-final stages but the standard is so high these days that’s not the case any more.

“All you can do is put in the practice and hope you play well in Sheffield.

“Obviously experience does help. I’ve got lots of happy memories from the Crucible so you do try to draw on those sometimes.

“But whatever has happened in the past doesn’t matter now, you still have to beat the man put in front of you.”

“I’m playing well in practice but that doesn’t mean a thing unless you play well at the venue. I’m sick of saying I’m playing well in practice.

“I need to transfer my form on to the tournament table and it’s the same for all players.”

Nigel Bond told www.thisisderbyshire:

“I’m pleased I won’t be playing first this year,”

“I’ve been in action early in each of the last two years and, if you lose, it feels like everything is over even before things have got going.

“It doesn’t give you any particular advantage to start later but the tables will have settled down a bit and I prefer it.”

“After the China Open, I’m provisionally ranked 33 for next year but there are a couple of players just ahead of me who didn’t qualify for Sheffield, so I will jump back over them,”

“When the draw was made, I thought: ‘Yes, that’s a good draw’ because Peter had been having as bad a year as me!”

“Like me, he’d only won a couple of games all season.

“And then, blow me, he went out to the China Open and won it.

“At least you know what you’re going to get with Peter.

“He’s not going to come out and blow you off the table with one century after another, like Ronnie O’Sullivan, but he’s a very solid player and, after China, I’ll definitely start as the underdog.

“I obviously want to try to finish the season on a high but I’m not going in with any particular expectations.

“I’m hitting the ball well in practice but I’m just lacking match sharpness.”

“I think I missed one ball in five frames in that match – I certainly didn’t do much wrong,” he said. “There wasn’t a lot I could do. Ali is one of the form players right now and maybe a favourite to win it in Sheffield.”

“I’ve played in a six-red tournament in Thailand and it was really good,”

“You can make one good pot or one mistake and it’s frame over. They play it quite a lot in the Far East and it will be good to try one over here.

“The sport’s looking for ideas to broaden its appeal.

“It was also good to see Betfred come in at the last minute, as the game has been struggling for sponsors.”

Peter Ebdon told SportingLife:

“I don’t see any reason why I can’t win it,”

“I’m coming into form at the right time. Not only have I won the World Championship, I’ve been to another couple of finals as well.

“So I have plenty of experience going into this championship and hopefully I can draw on the grit, experience and determination which I’ve shown many times in the past and hopefully I can be very, very strong and get the result which I’d like.

“Before the China Open I came to practise at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield.

“I played against a lot of very, very good Chinese players there and a couple of the Thai players as well and they beat me comprehensively in practice, so that wound me up a bit and spurred me on to work even harder.

“Fortunately the result came which I dreamed of, in winning the China Open. I put myself in that situation.”

“It’s horrible if you are a winner and you’re not winning,”

“It is the worst feeling in the world.

“No matter what walk of life you’re from, if you’re not being successful at what you want to be successful at then there is always a small piece of the jigsaw missing, and that’s the way not winning is for me.

“When you are successful and you win, you realise that it is something a bit special because you have beaten the best in the world and everyone there is trying their heart out to win the tournament.

“They are really hard to win these days so I’m thrilled to bits.

“Let’s hope I’m peaking at the right time. There are no easy matches at Sheffield and I think all of the top players are going to want to win even more this year.”

Graeme Dott told the Daily Record:

“I’m under pressure – I know that.

“I’ve not had the best of seasons but then I have missed two tournaments so I don’t think the rankings are a fair reflection of how I’ve played.”

“I had to turn up to get my first-round ranking points but to be honest I might as well not have played.

“But I did well at the China Open last month and feel pretty confident going to Sheffield.

“Strangely the players who have played well all season don’t seem to do very well at the Crucible.”

Ali Carter told Sporting Life:

“I don’t think Ronnie will be in the final this year,”

“I think he’ll get beaten in the mid rounds.

“I think John Higgins is a good bet and Peter Ebdon at 33-1 is who my money would be on.

“He’s won it before, he’s come back to a bit of form and he won the China Open.

“(O’Sullivan) has got a tough half of the draw and John Higgins beat him the last time he lost here, and John Higgins beat him in China. John Higgins is not scared of playing Ronnie.”

“Ronnie will be fighting to win this like anything, he’ll be trying his hardest,”

“But it’s hard, it’s such a long tournament. Anything can go wrong and, when you’re playing world-class players like John Higgins in your half, it’s not a guarantee for him to get there.”

“I don’t see what he [Ronnie] gets out of saying the game is dying,”

“He loves the game more than anyone in the world, he’s played it since he was eight years old and deep down it’s not dying at all.

“He’d be gutted if it was dead, like we all would.”

“I don’t think that’s possible now,”

“The standard is so high I think it’s impossible to get domination like Davis and Hendry did. Ronnie obviously is winning more than his fair share but he’s not dominating by any means.

“That just goes to show how hard it is.”

“He’s a good player, a good natural, attacking player,”

“I’m going to have to be on top of my game to beat him.”

“I learned how hard it was to get to the final, never mind to win it,”

“Mentally I had to be a lot fitter and I wasn’t ready to win it last year.

“It was very hard in the final. I was very tired and Ronnie didn’t make it easy for me.

“He was very good and his safety play was superb.

“You learn a lot about yourself when you’re in that position and it’s hardened me up for this season, definitely.

“I didn’t have anything left in the tank. It’s the world final and you’re supposed to go out there and play really well and make loads of centuries but in reality it wasn’t like that.

“I had such a hard ride. I won 10-9 in the first round, 13-9 in the quarters and 17-15 in the semis and I was up late that night and the final started the next day.

“I didn’t have time to come down off a semi-final, let alone prepare for a final.

“I’m ready to play well this year and I’ll take whatever that brings at the end of the two weeks.”

Ali Carter also told SkySports:

“I was disappointed last year, there’s no point getting to finals and not winning,”

“You want to be a tournament winner, that’s what it’s all about, that’s where we all want to be at the end of our careers, to say that we’re a world champion.

“It’s a massive achievement for any one of us, so this year I hope that it’s me.

“I feel less pressure this year, I’ve proved a lot to myself so I’m feeling less pressure and I’m going to go out there and enjoy myself – and if you can enjoy playing then you have more of a chance in the end.”

“It’s massive, it’s so special there, obviously that’s what makes the event and that’s the one everyone wants to win or do well in,”

“I don’t think it will move personally. I wouldn’t like it if it moved, it’s got to be in Sheffield for me.”

“My goal for the year was to be in the top four and I’m fourth at the minute, I’ve got a bit more work to do yet in the World Championships so hopefully I can do well and even move up a bit more.

“You just look at the top eight in the ranking list and I think you’ve got all the possible winners.

“I don’t think there will be any shocks this year, it’s just too long a session for there to be any shocks really.”

“It’s great news obviously [Betfred sponsoring the tournament],”

“I think they’ve got great value for money sponsoring snooker, I don’t think it’s that much of a surprise personally because it is such a good brand.

“If I had a multi-million pound company I’d sponsor it, maybe I will sponsor it in a few years’ time!

“It’s a hard time at the minute but sooner or later somebody was going to step up and put their money where their mouth is and Betfred have done that. It is fantastic and hopefully it’s a long continued partnership.”