IF Dominic Dale’s last tournament win was a sprint, the upcoming World Snooker Championship is nothing but a marathon, writes Pippa Field.
Stroud-based Dale will head to the Crucible for the ninth time in his career next week and where world No.12 Mark Davis is the first opponent standing between him and £300,000 in prize money.
That match – a best-of-19 frames – will last considerably longer than it took the 42-year-old to top the lot in the Shoot-Out in January, a tournament in which each round is over in ten minutes.
He outdueled Stuart Bingham in the final but as his first-round tie against Davis looms on Wednesday; Dale admits it takes a different kind of mindset to prevail at snooker’s showpiece event.
Dale’s best World Championship result is a quarter-final berth at the turn of the millennium – but he’s backing himself to make an impression before his attentions turn to sea and sun.
“You have to be a bit careful, sometimes you can over prepare,” he said. “You just have to get focused but not too wound up.
“The matches are longer so you have to be in the right frame of mind, eat well, be at the top of your fitness and keep refreshed between sessions.
“The season has been a bit stop and start but after winning the Shoot-Out in January I have been going pretty well, getting to the last 16 a couple of times.
“I’d say I’m playing my best snooker and I can definitely take confidence from my performances. The second the worlds finish for you, the second your holiday break begins.
“I will have three to four weeks off which will be good before then starting again for another eight or nine months.
“You can have it at the back of your mind about being on a beach but it is important to focus on the job in hand at the worlds.
“Everyone wants to be involved for as long as possible and I want to get as far as I can. And then I’ll probably go away on my own somewhere, away from any British tourists and relax.”
To even earn the right to walk out at the Crucible, Dale had to navigate his way through a qualifying round with Andrew Higginson, who posted a break of 139 before going down 10-6.
Dale labelled it the most difficult of all of the qualifying draws for the World Championship and will rest up before tackling Davis for a place in the second round proper.
“I think I had by far the hardest draw in qualifying. Higginson just missed out on the seeding for the main draw itself and has beaten me in the UK tournaments quite a few times but I’ve also had the better of him on occasions,” he added.
“It was a tough match; I was 2-0 down and then managed to win 10-6. I performed pretty solidly and managed to get some 50s, 60s, and 70s and some solid scores.
“It’s really exciting to be at the tournament so I’m going to take a few days to acclimatise and make sure I’m ready to go again.”
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