Just days before his Crucible début against Barry Hawkins on Saturday afternoon, I caught up with Jack Lisowski to get his thoughts ahead of the tournament, on the draw, his increased comfort in front of the television cameras and why he will be looking to treat the event like a PTC…
PSB: So Jack, how are you feeling now you have had a couple of days since qualifying?
Jack Lisowski: Good thanks. Back to work, practising. It was exciting yesterday with the draw. I was just practising with the laptop on as they called out the names which was quite cool.
PSB: What are your thoughts on your draw?:
JL: I think that unless you get Ronnie, there isn’t that much of a fuss about it. Everyone was just waiting for the Ronnie draw, who he was going to get and you can see that in the papers today.
But yeah it’s obviously a tough draw, but I looked at the draw and literally any player I could be drawn against, it was going to be hard so it’s not good or bad.
PSB: Have you played Barry Hawkins before as a professional?
JL: I’ve played him once and beat him 4-3 at the PTC Finals, but that was quite a while ago. It’s going to be a tough game.
PSB: Has it sunk in yet?
JL: I didn’t get too excited about it. Just ready for it now, getting more ready for it as it’s getting closer and closer. I will be going down on Friday so it’s very close, but by then I will be ready for it and looking forward to it.
PSB: Yeah, after you had qualified you seemed really calm, had your business on. It was like job done, onto the next one…
JL: Yeah, I’ve worked hard for it. I can only lose at the qualifiers, if I won, everyone expected me to qualify, I expected to qualify. So it’s a bit of a relief to do it.
I know that when you get too excited after you qualify, that’s no good. That’s what happened to me in the UK Championship. I thought I’d done it and then I played Stuart Bingham and as soon as I’d qualified I got smashed.
The tournament only starts when you get to the final stage so yeah it’s good, it’s exciting but the hard work starts now. Some players when they get to a venue they are happy with that, but I want to do well in this tournament so it’s just the mindset you know?
You can get too excited about it and you are just going to get beat because you lose your focus and I want to get to the end of the tournament, not the start.
PSB: Obviously you came into the tournament full of confidence after your run in China…
JL: It was good, a bit of a breakthrough because it was the first time I had played really well on TV. I felt relaxed against Shaun Murphy.
I beat Judd and then Mark Davis, that was the big one as I made it count because the week before I beat Mark Selby and then lost to Tom Ford.
When I played Shaun Murphy it was a close game. I lost 5-4 but it was a positive week, the furthest I’ve been in a ranking tournament. I’ve not got a bad word to say about it.
PSB: Do you feel that you are used to playing on TV now?
JL: Pretty much used to it now I’d say. I’m not too distracted by the crowd or the cameras now, I’m able to concentrate and play my game so really glad about that.
It took a while but I think the Shoot Out was the big one. After I had won a few games in that…it can’t really get any worse than that so I just thought…then when the crowds are quiet and you are playing in front of them, it’s quite easy, because when you play and they are shouting it is much harder.
So I’m quite grateful for the Shoot Out. It helped me a lot in front of the crowd with the pressure.
PSB: I mentioned this the other day, but after a tough year last season, this season as been a lot better. What would you put that down to?
JL: Yeah I went a bit off track last year. I lost a bit of confidence, but now I’m back on track again this year.
What is it down to? I just learnt. It’s not necessarily so much that I’m practising double, it’s not that I’m practising more. But I am practising smarter and learning what routines to do and who I need to play to get myself in the best form for a tournament.
Now I don’t get as worried because I am prepared, I know I can’t do any more and I’ve taken pressure off myself. I’ve learned how to cope basically, it’s an experience and this year I’ve managed to do it and have learned how to get myself playing well at a certain point better.
PSB: Obviously you have a lot of belief in your ability, you beat Mark Selby early very early in your career. Do you feel like you can do a bit of damage next week? You could play Selby in the last 16 of course
JL: He is one of the hardest players to play because he’s got such a solid game. He’s really, really hard to beat so he’s one of the hardest draws.
But I’ve got to beat Barry Hawkins first and that is going to be a really hard game as well. If I beat Barry, hopefully I can get a bit of momentum and there will be no pressure on me playing Selby.
Hopefully something good can happen, who knows!
PSB: Turning to the Crucible, didn’t you play there in Junior Pot Black one year?
JL: Can’t remember a thing, I can’t. It was so long ago I can’t remember, seven years ago, six years ago. It doesn’t count! Absolutely nothing from that, A fresh start!
PSB: What memories do you have of the place from watching on TV and growing up?
JL: Yeah, if you think about it too much…I’ve watched it every single tournament, I’ve watched every game on telly since I was a little kid so it’s going to be crazy playing there.
But I’m not going to think about that, because you are just going to get too excited and it might be too overawing. So I am just going to treat it like I am playing on the table and there are just a few people watching.
If I was to let myself go and think about it…it’s insane isn’t it? I’m not going to think about it!
PSB: Who will you be taking up with you?
JL: Just my mate, literally I’m having no-one come up, I don’t want to make it a big deal.
If I get to the final then everyone can come up but I’m just trying to get no distractions, my manager Django and that’s literally it. It’s like a normal tournament, I’m going to treat it as a PTC, a long PTC!
Jack will begin his campaign on Saturday afternoon at 2:30pm against Barry Hawkins, while you can read more of his thoughts here at the Express