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Brown Better Than Ever

Northern Ireland’s Jordan Brown believes he is now playing even better snooker than when he scored his stunning 2021 Welsh Open triumph and he is hoping he can convert that into a big season.

Brown shocked the snooker world at Celtic Manor two years ago, in an event he began as a 750-1 outsider. The Antrim cueman faced Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Welsh Open final and upset the odds to emerge a 9-8 victor. Since then he hasn’t quite been able to hit the heights, but he believes that the signs are there on the practice table that he can surpass the snooker he played to lift the Ray Reardon Trophy.

He’s off to a strong start to the new campaign, having beaten Ma Heilong 5-2 to make the final stages of the BetVictor European Masters. Looking at the current season, 35-year-old Brown believes a refreshed mindset can lead him to success…

Jordan, where do you feel your game is at currently with the season just getting going?

“I’m playing really well. I feel like my game is in better shape than ever. I found out a lot about myself last season. I just think I struggled with the mental side. It isn’t easy becoming a father for the first time with the added responsibilities. I think it took away my focus a little bit. I’ve thought about it long and hard over the summer and I’m making sure the same things don’t happen again. I’m going in with the intention of relaxing a bit more and playing my normal game. I know it is there, a lot of it is just getting my mind right.”

What steps have you taken to ensure the mentality is right?

“I haven’t taken any particular steps. I was playing every match last year like my life depended on it. You can’t really be like that. Snooker is all about having a good attitude towards the game and maintaining your concentration. My mind tended to wander to other things. I know my game is always there. It is just about bringing it out. I saw a sport psychologist last season, I did hypnotherapy. You name it, I did everything. However, at the end of the day it is all down to me and how I apply myself. Things are looking a lot better. I’m feeling better about my game and about myself.”

Has it been frustrating not to push on and get more silverware since your Welsh Open win?

“I feel in practice I am playing better than when I won the Welsh Open. The bottom line is that you need to show it in your matches and I haven’t done that yet. I put a lot of expectation on myself since then. I’m determined that it isn’t going to be a one off. I enter tournaments to go deep. Getting to last 16s isn’t good enough for me. I’m really determined that I can compete with the very best. It is up to me to prove that and I will give everything to do that this season.”

You recently went back to your old school Parkhall Integrated Collecge, alongside Mark Allen, to give out some awards. How nice was it to give something back?

“I have a lot to thank my old school for. My principal was very good at giving me time off for junior tournaments and was very supportive. It was nice to give a little bit back and present a few awards. Myself and Mark were very honoured to be a part of it. It was nice to reminisce, that is the first time I’ve been back to my old school in 20 years. It was good to reflect on old memories.”

What was it like to see the way Mark Allen performed last season and how important has he been to you as a practice partner and friend?

“I’ve always said he has been capable of doing that, if not better. I rate Mark very highly. I’m very privileged to have him as a friend and as a practice partner. He is an incredible player. Finally he has shown that on the table. He has shed six or seven stone and that is testament to what he has done for himself and his life. It is paying dividends on the table and there are only bigger things to come. A world title certainly isn’t out of the question for him.

“I am still learning from him. We work well together, have some really good games and it keeps me so sharp. It is great going into matches. We both want to beat each other and I hate losing as much as the next person. I used to go in the club and hit a few balls about. Against Mark I can get into that competitive mindset and there is no quarter given between us.”