Matt is pleased to finish 2013 on a high and is looking forward to next year.
Last week we all went back to Barnsley for the German and Haikou qualifiers. I lost my match in the German Masters to a very impressive Li Hang 5-2, but then I managed to beat Liam Highfield 5-3 to qualify for Haikou. I started off very slowly, mostly down to my poor form this season and I felt very edgy, especially when I went 2-0 down. Somehow managed to get it back to 2-2 at the interval and that made my mid-session banana taste a lot better.
The fifth frame went down to the final black, and out of the corner of my eye I caught the Nugget (Steve Davis) looking over. If it had been anyone else I may have tried to play safe, but me being me, I tried to do something impressive in front of one of my peers, but sent the white ball straight into the black pocket. It wasn’t one of my finest shots it has to be said…and the Nugget looked far from impressed. Liam had a few bits of bad luck after that, and I managed to get the win 5-3. I was a very relieved man.
It was a big relief for me to get a win because I’ve had a run of bad results recently. Apart from qualifying for the Crucible, 2013 has been one of the worst years of my snooker career.
Hopefully 2014 will bring a fresh start for me. My main New Year resolution will be to play as much snooker as I can and stop messing about. My results have been dire this season and that’s down to one thing: shocking preperation. My old mentor Robbo Brazier would not be very happy now if he saw the way I was preparing for my snooker, he’d definitely have given me a slap by now and marched me in the right direction. I need to settle down and get my head down. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been staying in Atherstone at the lovely Abigail and Dave Gilbert’s and practising with Dave most days. He’s a top player now and the last week or so has really helped. He gets a bit angry sometimes, that’s why he’s known as the angry farmer, but behind that miserable looking face he’s a top guy.
My second resolution will be to keep going with the fitness work and diet I have been following for a few months. I am really enjoying it and I feel fantastic. The Vegan (Peter Ebdon) has been trying to convert me to become a vegan for a few months now. He’s managed to get me to read up on it and if the truth be known, I actually agree with it all. But I just like my meat far too much to give it up.
My final resolution will be to stop talking to idiots. There are a few people on tour who I find mentally draining so I’m just going to stay away from them. I’d love to tell you who they are, but I can’t afford any more fines at the moment!
There’s a bit of a break now before the season gets going again. I’m thinking of going to Australia for Christmas. A former player called Nathan Williams lives in Perth and he has invited me over. I haven’t had a holiday for a long time so it is very tempting.
I watched BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday and I can’t understand why Ronnie O’Sullivan wasn’t among the shortlist of ten. He won the World Championship for a fifth time after taking nearly a year out, how many other people in sport could do that? He has won the World title five times, never lost a final at Sheffield, and he’s the greatest talent we’ve ever seen. He walked the UK Championship when he was 17, and 20 years later he’s still winning the big titles. So I don’t know what he has to do to be on the shortlist. It was never in doubt that Andy Murray would win it, but I’d barely even heard of the bloke who came second, Leigh Halfpenny.
I also just want to mention Mark Selby’s 147 at the UK Championship, which was the 100th maximum in snooker history. He missed the last black at the China Open last season which could have earned him £23,500, so he must have been twitching this time with £59,000 on the line. Mark doesn’t need the money, but that’s as much as most people earn in two years. There must have been an element of ‘hit and hope’ about the final black because he would have been nervous and he couldn’t see the pocket. He just had to rely on his ability. Sport produces those very special moments when someone pulls off a brilliant shot when it really matters, like YE Yang’s rescue club to win the 2009 USPGA. The fact that Mark was out of position on the colours made it more exciting.
Anyway, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and all the best for 2014.