Ricky Walden said he had gone “back to basics” with his technique after an impressive 4-1 win over Ali Carter put him into the semi-finals of the Ladbrokes Players Championship.
It has been a quiet season for world number 11 Walden – today was his first ranking quarter-final of the campaign – but he has shown renewed confidence this week and faces Barry Hawkins tomorrow for a place in the final in Manchester, with the champion on Sunday to collect £100,000. The 33-year-old from Chester is chasing the fourth ranking title of his career and first since the 2014 International Championship.
A break of 114 gave Walden the opening frame then Carter levelled with a run of 60. Walden regained the lead with a 111 and was lucky to fluke a red in frame four which initiated a run of 50 to put him 3-1 ahead. He sealed victory in the next with an 85.
“I was tinkering about with my game for ten months and wasted a lot of time,” said Walden. “If I wanted to really rebuild my game then I would need to take 12 months out, but I was trying to do it in between tournaments. Then I was going to events and losing and my confidence was taking a battering.
“I have gone back to basics now, to what I know best, it is working and my confidence has come back. I am playing to my strengths again. While the World Grand Prix was on I had a few days in New York and chilled with the family. I have come back refreshed and feeling good. I scored well today though there is still room for improvement.”
All three of Walden’s ranking titles have come in China and he added: “I’ve had good runs here, like getting to the semis of the World and the UK, but I would love to win a tournament in the UK with my family there. It’s great to win anywhere, but to do it here would be special.”