Luca Brecel hopes that improving his fitness will help him return to top form as he looks ahead to next week’s D88.com European Masters in his home country.
In August 2017, Belgium’s Brecel became the first player from continental Europe to win a ranking title, when he beat Shaun Murphy in the final of the China Championship. He has since struggled to produce his best and has not reached the quarter-finals of any ranking tournament in 2018. Earlier this week the defence of his China Championship crown ended at the last 64 stage as he lost to Martin O’Donnell.
The 23-year-old from Maasmechelen said: “After I lost to Ricky Walden in the first round of the the World Championship in April I said to my family that I have to change something. I changed my diet and my fitness routine. I also started practising every day which I wasn’t doing before.
“My game is now coming into good shape. I have been practising consistently hard for the last few months. Now it’s all about getting some confidence on the match table and then I can get to the later stages of tournaments.”
Brecel will be the crowd favourite at the D88.com European Masters, which runs from October 1 to 7 at the De Soeverein venue in Lommel. The field is packed with top stars such as World Champion Mark Williams, world number one Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, John Higgins and defending champion Judd Trump.
Last year, when the event was staged in Lommel for the first time, Brecel reached the last 16 before losing to Stuart Bingham.
“I am really looking forward to Lommel and hoping to get some good results there this time,” he said. “It definitely motivates me to be playing a tournament in Belgium. Playing for your home crowd is a different feeling. Before the matches I will just try to focus and tell myself to enjoy it, but then when I’m playing I think of the people in the crowd and it’s crazy! It will be difficult but I’ll be trying my best.
“If I could win the title it would be very special, even bigger than winning my first ranking title last year. It would be amazing.”
He faces Daniel Wells in his opening match on Monday October 1. Tickets for the tournament are still available – for details CLICK HERE