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Davis Reflects On Tour Card Roller Coaster

One shot transformed a Crucible dream into a professional relegation nightmare for Mark Davis, but after a tour card reprieve the Hastings cueman is over the moon to remain on the circuit.

Davis faced close friend Joe Perry in the ultimate Judgement Day showdown at Cazoo World Championship qualifying, knowing he had to win to earn a place in the final stages and avoid losing his professional status. He first came onto the tour all the way back in 1991.

The tie went down to a nerve shredding final frame at 9-9, where Davis had looked set to steal victory before missing a match ball pink on a break of 55. Perry pounced and deposited the last two balls to clinch the Crucible berth 10-9 and seemingly halt the career of his close friend.

It was a heartbreaking moment for Davis, but the pain was to be short lived. Due to being ranked in 68th position it was decided he would stay on tour, because of an independent tribunal, the outcome of which was pending at the time.

Reflecting on his match with Perry, Davis admits that he went through a severe roller coaster of emotions during that dramatic final frame.

Davis recalled: “It went from being the best break of my life to the worst frame of my life in one shot. Qualifying for the Crucible alone is huge, so you couldn’t be under more pressure than 9-9 to qualify and to keep your tour card. I know players challenge for trophies, but everything is relative and for me, in my career, that was obviously everything on the line. I do think I handled it well, but I missed one shot and it cost me everything. Losing my card like that was devastating and it did take me a while to get over.

“It ended horrendously, but all the way through I was focussing on what I was doing. There was so much on the line for me, but I enjoyed it. I knew what was at stake in the last game. You can’t think about that against such a good player like Joe over 19 frames. You just have to blank all of that out. I think I did that for the most part. Even on that pink, I felt no different from any other ball. It was just one of those things.

“I’m sure he felt bad for me. We’ve been friends for a long time so I’m sure he took no pleasure in knocking me off tour. He’s got to do his job. He is there to play snooker. It was just a mad match. To finish like that, I would feel bad for my opponent if it was the other way round, even if I didn’t like them. I was devastated afterwards. When the protester came on in Joe’s game with Robert Milkins at the Crucible, he text me asking if I had arranged it! We had a couple of funny texts about that.”

It was a moment of huge relief for Davis when he received the phone call to clarify that he would be remaining on the circuit for at least another season. The 50-year-old admits that his relative security on the tour before this point has led him to take his career for granted, but he is now determined to make the most of the reprieve.

“I got a phone call a couple of hours before I played Tony Knowles in the World Seniors Championship.They explained that they had been working on it and gave me the outcome. It was a massive buzz and a massive relief. I could just forget that pink immediately after that. Even though there was disappointment of not getting to the Crucible, at my age you don’t know how many times you will get back there again. With regard to it costing me my tour spot, I could put that away and look forward to the season. I have got a lifeline, I will give it everything and see what happens.

“It was completely the right decision, with what had happened. I would have said the exact same thing whether I was comfortably in the top 64 or if I was 80th. Anyone who knows me knows that is true. It just so happened that it benefitted me. I am really pleased to at least have one more year and we will see how we go.

“There’s not been that many times that I’ve been close to losing my card. It was the first time for a very long time that I was in trouble. I have sometimes taken things for granted, you do that if you are never in danger. It is a free roll and I’ll try to enjoy it a little bit more. I always put too much pressure on it. I don’t want to get too bogged down as that’s not the way I play my best. I should be a lot more fluent than I have been.”

Davis remains hopeful that he can have a moment in the sun and capture maiden ranking silverware. The closest he’s come to that so far was at the 2018 English Open, where he was narrowly beaten by Stuart Bingham in the final 9-7. He’s been to a further five ranking semi-finals and a further 14 quarter-finals, but believes he still has it in him to go all the way.

“It is the target, but every year that goes by it gets harder. The English Open was devastating, but for whatever reason that and a few other close events didn’t come off. You need things to go your way. You can’t just do what Ronnie and the top boys do and steamroller through a tournament. Someone like me needs things to run their way to get a breakthrough. The bottom line is that I’ve played in hundreds of tournaments and if I don’t win one then it is my fault. To win one is always the plan and you have to aim high. My game is still good enough to produce it for one week and if the balls run my way, then why not?”