Ali Carter has set his sights on a return to the top 16 of the world rankings after a strong finish to last season.
The Captain carried over his form from last term earlier this week, when he got his 2021/22 campaign underway by topping Group 19 at the BetVictor Championship League.
Carter reached the quarter-finals of the Welsh Open last season, but unfortunately had to withdraw before his last eight tie with Ronnie O’Sullivan due to a severe migraine. However, he continued to impress at the WST Pro Series where he made the final group. Carter also qualified for the Crucible, where he narrowly lost a high quality clash with Jack Lisowski 10-9.
The Essex cueman, who is a four-time ranking event winner, has now set himself the target of clinching a place in the world’s top 16 and winning a ranking title this season. He hasn’t lifted silverware on the World Snooker Tour since the 2016 World Open.
We’ve caught up with Carter to find out how he has got on over the summer and how he intends to go about making his plans for the season a reality…
Ali, first of all what have you been up to over the summer and how have your preparations for the season gone?
“I’ve been playing a little bit on and off through the summer. I’ve got a table at home now so it makes practising a lot easier. I’ve just been picking up where I left off. I had a really strong end to the season, because from January onwards I started working very hard on my game. I’ve been applying myself more and doing all of the right things. The trouble is that when you have been a professional for as long as I have, you get complacent and drive to tournaments on the day and just do things which are unprofessional. I’m trying to address my balance off the table and that is helping my snooker on it.”
How frustrating was the final game of the season at the World Championship, considering it was a brilliant match where you were just edged by the single frame against Jack Lisowski?
“I’ve dished out plenty of punishment at the Crucible. I’ve done well there and won plenty of deciding frames along the way. Jack hasn’t won anything yet, but he is expected to and he was one of the in form players of last season. To even compete with him was pleasing for me really. 10-9 can go either way, so I went away gutted. However, in the grand scheme of things I wasn’t too disappointed. The Crucible wasn’t how I remember it, even though we had some fans back in. Hopefully next year I get back there as a member of the top 16 and it is back to normal. That is my goal to be in the 16 and win an event. I have a plan in place to achieve that.”
Would you mind divulging what the plan entails?
“There is a recipe for success and it involves doing all of the right things. I’m managing my life better off the table, keeping myself fit and dedicating the right amount of time to practice. I’ve completely changed how I operate on the practice table. I don’t do the routines anymore, as I’ve done them all of my life. I just literally play frames of snooker. I’ll smash the balls up and do whatever I need to do. I try to make as many centuries as I can. I just get people to come over, whatever standard they are, and just play frames. Whether it is a mate who likes snooker, or Brian Morgan who is a commercial pilot who comes down once or twice a week. I just get in there and swing the arm every day, which is what I need to do.
“I’m not far away at all from where I need to be. There are a lot of good players out there and you do need to wait your turn. Just because you are doing the right things doesn’t guarantee that you are going to win. What it does guarantee is you will have the best possible chance. When the opportunity does come your way, you’ve done all the work, you have all the tools in the box and you are ready to grasp that chance you have. In the past I’ve been guilty of not doing all the right things and when the opportunity has come I haven’t done the legwork at home to take it.”
You’ve now gone five years without a ranking title. How keen are you to put that right this season?
“I’ve lost in a few finals since then, but that is not enough. Last season was a bit of a write off and it was a matter of getting my head round it, which I did. I’ve looked at the five years and thought it isn’t right. I’ve felt like I have deserved more and now I’m going to make sure I go and get it. That is all down to me at the end of the day.
“I’m 42 on Sunday, but I think I’m quite a young 42. I feel I have at least five or six years left. I’m out running two or three times a week. I’m not an athlete but I’m fairly fit. While I can do all of that I’ll keep competing and keep playing.”
How have you been getting on with flying away from the baize?
“My aeroplane went away in February for a full bare metal strip and respray because it is quite old now. It only just came back on Tuesday of this week. With the soaring temperatures, it has been too hot to fly. It’s like a greenhouse before you even get in it and once you have done your checks it is roasting. Ideally, in this weather, you want to go out at 8pm sort of time when it cools down. I haven’t had a chance to do that yet, so I’m just really looking forward to getting going.
“I want to increase my license and do some more training. I want to do my night rating and things like that to keep building on it. It’s a lovely flying school and club at Andrewsfield where my plane is. It’s only ten minutes from my house so it is brilliant to get together with them and work together as a sponsor for me this season.”