Pre-Crucible Quotes Round-Up 2011

So then it’s Crucible Eve Eve, always a great time of year and as you would expect, a few of the players involved have been talking up their prospects for 2011. Click below for all of the quotes that you need to see…

Where else to start with with the defending world champion and as you would expect, the main topic up for discussion has been whether he can beat the Crucible Curse. Neil told Cambridge First:

“It’s really really strange, but I think it’s difficult to defend your title full stop, not many players have done it, let alone first time around.

“I’m just aiming to play well and take it from there. I’m feeling very relaxed and if I get to the latter stages of the tournament I won’t be thinking about it [the curse] at all.”

“He’s [Judd Trump] a player I’ve known about for a while, but I think he’d say himself he hasn’t progressed as he would have liked over the last couple of years,”

“This year he’s showed what he can do, and having won in China they’ll be some expectation on him going into the World Championships.”

There is also an interesting Q&A over at Orange where he discusses his first round match, his season so far and the prospects of Ronnie O’Sullivan, as well as the suspension of John Higgins from the sport during last season’s event.

His first hurdle will be to overcome Judd Trump and there are some interesting quotes from the recent China Open winner on the SportingLife website which you can read here. Amongst other things he discusses his move to the Grove Academy as well as the feeling of winning his first major title.

Turning to John Higgins, the three-time champion has been talking to the BBC about his hopes for this year, highlights include:

“I think as a person I’m definitely stronger for what I’ve been through,”

“It’s given me a little more appetite or determination. I’m just trying to do my best.”

“I think you’re always nervous before you go down to the Crucible,”

“You don’t know how you’re going to react or play. I’ve just got to go down and do my best.

“It’s a wide open tournament, everyone will fancy their chances and I’m no different.

“I feel, if I play well, I could do well in the tournament.”

Another man who could do well in the tournament is the man who John defeated to win his third world title in 2009, Shaun Murphy who has an opening round tie against Marcus Campbell to look forward to. As he has told World Snooker however, already he only has his eyes on the prize:

“It’s great getting to the semis or the final at Sheffield,”

“But at this stage of my career, having won it before and held a few other titles, I’m only in it to win it. Anything else would be a disappointment.”

“I’ve had doubts about my game during the season, but I’ve kept the faith and come good at the right time,”

“I actually don’t think that form is that important going into the World Championship – you’ve just got to get past your first match then play your way into it. The winner will be the player who copes best with all the twists and turns you go through over 17 days.

“I love the event and every time it finishes I feel as if I can’t wait until next year, so I’m determined to have a good run in it this time.”

Another who many are talking of this season is provisional world number one Mark Williams and along with countryman Andrew Pagett he has given a very entertaining interview to the BBC which you can watch here. He still hasn’t warmed to the Crucible then after all these years! You can also read more from Andrew over at Snooker Scene Blog.

What of Mark’s friend Stephen Hendry who will be looking for a win against Joe Perry to give himself a chance of retaining his top 16 spot? He has given an excellent interview to The Scotsman during which he talks about the glory years at the Crucible as well as the more recent problems that have caused his slide down the rankings. Highlights include:

“Going into a tournament with 100 per cent belief you will win it – that’s how I’ve always enjoyed snooker.”

“Recently I just haven’t been getting that enjoyment. That affects your motivation, getting to the practice table. The worst thing for me is not being competitive.

“When I lost to Ding (Junhui] in the second round of the China Open recently I had a million chances to win. Ten years ago I would have destroyed the guy, because I could see he was shitting himself, but I couldn’t pounce. Early on he was negative, he had the fear. This has been the pattern for me against the top players for the last five years. There’s this moment when they think ‘What if Hendry plays well today?’ but then it’s gone.”

“If that’s what’s going to be ahead of me [qualification], I might have to review the old career. I played one of those PTC events. It was me against Anthony McGill, the young Scots lad, in a little room in Sheffield at nine o’clock in the morning in front of just three people. I just thought: ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ After so many Worlds, playing to 2,000 people in Hong Kong and 2,500 at Wembley, it just felt … demeaning? Maybe a bit. If you’re thinking back to all the places your sport has taken you then you’re going to hate those type of surroundings. So maybe this will turn out to be my last-ever time at the Crucible.”

I must admit that I can see his point with regards to the PTCs but ultimately it is going to be his lack of results during those that will cost him his place in the top 16 sooner rather than later. Will he really retire though?

One man who has threatened to do so on more than one occasion is Ronnie O’Sullivan and as will have been noticed, yesterday it came to light that the three-time champion had recently indicated that he wished to pull out of the event before having something of a re-think. You can read his quotes over at the Daily Mail website. Also available are the thoughts of Judd Trump and Neil Robertson as to what to expect from Ronnie this year at Yahoo Eurosport.

You can also read quotes from Ronnie’s first-round opponent Dominic Dale at World Snooker who enters the event knowing that he has probably his best chance yet to record a maiden win against O’Sullivan, but is understandably wary of what he could do.

Definitely playing though is The Captain, Ali Carter who has revealed to World Snooker that back in November he had an operation in relation to his battle with Crohn’s disease which by his own admission did affect his form. On his first round opponent Dave Harold he noted:

“The way he plays can really wind you up,”

“You’ve got to be patient and make sure your head is right, rather than letting the way he plays get to you and affect you. It’s up to me to take my chances when I’m at the table and avoid being drawn into a long battle. I’ve beaten him twice already this season but they were both close games.”

“I got to the semis last year as well and I’ve got great memories of the event,”

“I love Sheffield – it has a unique atmosphere and it’s our equivalent to Wembley or Wimbledon. The crowds are fantastic and it all adds up to the perfect tournament.”

“I kept it [the operation] quiet at the time because I didn’t want to use it as an excuse,”

“But you can see by my results that it did affect my form.

“In the past few tournaments I’ve played a lot better and hopefully I’m coming good in time for the big one.”

The man on the other end of Ali’s Crucible 147 was Peter Ebdon and he has been offering his thoughts to RTE on Ding Junhui, the man he sees as a potential winner:

‘I think in many ways he’s going to be the player to beat this year, because he’s maturing all the time.

‘I practised up at the (World Snooker) academy in Sheffield last year before the World Championship.

‘There was nobody in the world playing better than him last year going into the World Championship, in my opinion, and I was a bit surprised that he didn’t win the World Championship last year.

‘He’s just got so much ability.

‘Sometimes he can put his head down when things are not going right for him.

‘It’s because he’s got so much ability and so much class.

‘I think he has begun to show signs of maturing in the last season or two, especially with his win at the Masters at Wembley this season, where, for me, he just never came out of second gear.

‘It was just so classy, it was unbelievable.

‘If we see the real Ding Junhui turn up at the World Championship this year, I think he’ll take all the beating.’

Elsewhere, Joe Perry has also been looking ahead to an opener with Stephen Hendry and told Cambridge First:

“I got a few beatings off him the first few times we played, but I think I’m a better player now and he’s perhaps not as good as he was.

“It will be a difficult match, but things have gone well in the build-up and I’ll go into the tournament with no expectations and see what happens.”

Finally, you can also read from Mark King over at as he talks about his desire to reach the latter stages of the event at least once before his career comes to a close. Features with Ali Carter and Joe Perry can also be found on the site here.