Davis Looks To Ding Clash At The Barbican

One of the 16 players to successfully qualify last week for the final stages of the UK Championship in York, during the past couple of seasons Mark Davis has enjoyed the most consistent run of his career which at the most recent seedings cut-off saw him within two wins of a place inside the top 16 for the first time in his long career.

Following his 6-2 victory over Michael White in Gloucester, Mark sat down for a chat about the result, his improvement and to offer his views on the wider issues in the sport at the moment…

PSB: Well played Mark, how was the match [6-2 against Michael White] from your point of view?

Mark Davis: I thought that I played well to be honest, apart from two or three balls that I missed I didn’t really miss a lot. I scored quite heavily so I was well happy with how I played. When I had a chance I scored nearly every time at least 30/40 and quite a few over 50 as well so I’m pleased with how I played definitely.

I’ve been on a bit of a bad run lately so it’s nice to get a win under my belt, I haven’t had one in a while, against a main tour player anyway. I didn’t even know until I read it in the local paper that I’d lost six in a row against main tour players but I worked it out and it was true.

Michael White is a good little player too, I rate him, I always have to be honest. Every time I have played him I have always had a bit of run and he has not really had any. It’s weird how you remember things like that, I’m sure that he will as well but he’s a very good player and a tough draw for me.

PSB: Are you looking forward to going back to York? Have you played there before?

MD: I have played there before, good venue, really nice yeah. Looking forward to it, makes the journey to Belgium tomorrow [for PTC9] a bit better now.

Mark in action

PSB: Who are you going with?

MD: With Gerard [Greene], Barry [Hawkins] and Joe [Perry], we got on well, have a bit of a laugh. It saves a few quid going together on the boat, sharing rooms or whatever which at PTCs you need to because it’s tough to earn any money in them to be honest as you have got to win three matches to make any sort of profit.

PSB: What is your take at the moment on the PTCs which are such a point of discussion at the moment?

MD: We want them because otherwise we would be back to seven ranking events which is what everyone didn’t want. We wanted more tournaments to play in which is what we have got.

They still need a bit of work because at the PTCs you have got to win three matches, three hard games. You might get a local in the third round which is not too bad but you have still got to win two to make any sort of profit at all which is tough. But listen I don’t blame them for having ranking points because without ranking points most of them wouldn’t go in them in the top 16 let’s be honest and what good is that?

Mark during his victory at the UK Championship qualifiers

At the end of the day we want to get ranking tournaments in these places that we are having them and if you want to do that you have got to have the top players there. I like them, I want tournaments to play in and that is what we have got.

Not everyone can win the money obviously. I think the money should be the same that’s for sure, it’s £10,000 over here and then over there you win €10,000 which is about £6,000. I don’t think that is right and needs looking at.

Apart from that we want tournaments to play in so if you don’t like it, don’t go in them and see your ranking drop, it’s up to you. It’s the way it is. I know they are not ideal and that loads of people don’t like them but you know, if they were doing the business in the venues in the perfect set-ups then they wouldn’t necessarily have to go in them. Ding Junhui has been able to pick and choose but he is in a position to.

PSB: Speaking of Ding, you have now play him at the venue of the UK Championship in York following your win today…

MD: That’s who I have got is it? I didn’t even know to be honest with you. Ok. I’ve played him a few times, always played quite well against him. I played him in the World Championship one year, first session played really well against him and I played him in the Northern Ireland Trophy one year and played really well in that match, won the match 5-4.

But you don’t get any easy draws at that stage against a top 16 player. Except Bingham maybe! (laughs) But no you have got to play well and if you play well you have got a chance against anybody. History has proved that.

PSB: Looking back to PTC6 you came into the event with massive pressure on you to get on a run to beat Martin Gould to a place in the top 16, did that have an effect on you?

MD: I just had a bad run. It wasn’t particularly on my mind, it might have been more on my mind than I had thought but I just played bad. I played Andrew Norman in Sheffield and my concentration wasn’t really there which I know is a pathetic excuse but I just didn’t play very well and then I didn’t play well in Poland. I still should have beaten Nigel Bond as I was 3-2 ahead and missed a stupid red which might have won me the frame.

Mark at the SWSA

If I had won that and got through to play [Liang] Wenbo then maybe I would have thought about it, I’m sure I would, but up until that point I had to win at least two or three matches so it was miles away. To be honest I just didn’t play as well as I had been as simple as that. It might have been the top 16, it might not. I don’t think it was.

I’m still gutted about it now but it’s gone, gotta get on with it. Obviously it’s a big one with the Masters and the Power Snooker. Maybe they will have another 12 tournaments to bring in just to make me feel better!

PSB: Would you have played in the Power Snooker?

MD: You have got to play in it haven’t you? It’s the money or the chance to win money. I wasn’t all that impressed with it last year to be honest with you but maybe this year I will feel a bit different about it if I watch it. But yeah of course I would have played in it. You play in everything, you get that far to get in the top 16.

Look at Martin, he deserved it at the end of the day, he won more matches than me and got in. I had a couple of chances last year too, lost in the semi-finals of Shanghai against Jamie Burnett from 4-1 up…but it’s nice to be fighting for these positions while most of my career I have been in the 40’s/50’s so it’s nice to be there and battling for top 16 spots.

PSB: What do you think has brought that about? Obviously you started working with Steve Feeney a couple of years ago…

MD: Yeah I did a bit with Steve, that has been good and helped me a little bit. I think I have just looked at things a little bit differently and tried not to put so much pressure on myself. Mentally is my weak point without a doubt and it always has been. Working with Terry lately has been good, it takes a while after having 20 years of negative thoughts. My head has been very bad and after that long it is hard to get it right.

Mark in Shanghai

So yeah working with Terry, Steve has been helpful and I have tried to look after myself a little bit better. I did a half-marathon a couple of years ago and that helped that season and just playing properly, practising properly. Jimmy Robertson has helped too, having him in the club so I can go in there and play with him which is good practice because he is a very good player.

PSB: Going back to the PTCs, we were talking to Robert Milkins yesterday about the physical challenge of playing three matches in one day, do you feel that?

MD: Well I just think especially with a long season it has helped me. Originally I was doing a half-marathon for charity and all that season I was as fresh as a daisy. I think if you are fit physically it does help. When I played Rory McLeod in the World Championship after a long season, the first with all of the PTCs, there was just nothing left, my concentration wasn’t there and I just played bad.

I don’t really want that to happen again so just three times a week I’ll run three or four miles, nothing major or do something just to keep fit because let’s be honest I’m not 21 any more, I’m 39 so it will probably help me more than other people. Look at Steve Davis, I don’t know what he does but he looks as fit as a fiddle, what a guy he is.

PSB: As well at the moment we have guys like yourself, Marcus Campbell and so on who in their late thirties are now breaking new ground in the rankings, why do you think that is?

MD: I don’t know. Maybe put it down to experience, only took us 18 years to get the experience! I don’t know, good to see Marcus doing well, he has always been a good player and it’s good to see. I can’t really put my finger on why. There is no particular reason as I think the standard is as good as at any time if not better. The standard at the qualifiers, guys don’t understand how good it is sometimes, it really is top quality so I don’t put it down to a lack of standard.

6 Red World Champion 2009

For me there are a few little things, working with Steve and looking at things a little bit differently. For Marcus I don’t know, but it’s good to see, make the most of it and try to keep battling away and see how it goes.

It’s good to see people like Michael [White] because they are going to be here in twenty years when I am talking, he’s a good kid as well, he’s had some pretty crap run against me and he has took it well, he doesn’t moan, he doesn’t bang his cue. He has got a good temperament and that’s what you need. You get some youngsters banging their cues about and all the rest of it and you can’t do that. I’m expecting big things of Michael in a few years.

PSB: Have you got any particular targets between now and the end of the season?

MD: I don’t particularly set targets, though I’ve spoken to Terry and he said that I should so maybe I will, but I haven’t in the past because I’ve thought that if I get into the top 16, what am I going to do? I’m still going to try and win every match just as hard as before so that’s the way I look at setting targets.

But obviously the main one is just to try and nick into the top 16 at one of the cut-offs. Or both of them, that would be nice. I’m off to Belgium next week, it would be nice to have a good run there and cement my place in the top 24. It would be nice to get into the top 8 but yeah the main one is to get into the 16.