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Scott Donaldson Q&A

Scott Donaldson enjoyed a strong finish to last season, making his Crucible debut as well as reaching the China Open semi-finals, now the 25-year-old has got his 2019/20 campaign off to the best possible start.

Perth’s Donaldson defeated Fraser Patrick and Ian Burns earlier this month to qualify for the Riga Masters and International Championship respectively.

We caught up with him to see how he is feeling about the season ahead…

Scott, looking ahead to this season you have now been to four ranking event semi-finals during your career. Is the goal going forward now to get past that hurdle and reach a maiden final?

“That is the reason for practising so much. I want to push myself as hard as I possibly can. I don’t just want to get to a final, I want to win a tournament at some point if I can. Whether it happens or not, I don’t know. I feel like I am on the right track.

“I need to get used to being in the big matches. I have to be able to play my natural game without getting caught up in all of the media and hype. It is very easily done. You can think to yourself that you are there before even hitting a ball. The more I get to the latter stages of big tournaments and play in big games, the more I will become accustomed to it all.”

You reached the Crucible stages of the World Championship for the first time back in April. Even though you bowed out in a 10-4 defeat against Kyren Wilson, what did you make of the experience?

“It was a great experience, although I would have liked to play a bit better. I’ve put myself in a position where I will now be ready and know what to expect next time I qualify. You just don’t know how you are going to play until you are out there. I’m not going to let that match define my whole season. Hopefully at some point in the future I will show what I can do at the Crucible.

“I did have a walk out into the arena before my match to see what it was like. However, it’s very surprising how different it is when there are people in the auditorium. It’s a wee bit intimidating. Once I got used to that, I really started to enjoy playing out there. The Crucible is one of those intimidating sporting arenas, but if you can play your best stuff out there then there is no better place.”

You had a very dramatic path to the Crucible, having led Lu Ning 9-4 before eventually coming through with a 10-9 win. Was that decider the most pressurised frame of your career so far?

“There is no doubt about that. These dramas always come in the big matches. It just seems to pan out that way. It is never an easy route to anywhere, let alone the World Championship. I think in the long run that match has done me a favour. I ended up coming through a really close battle. If I’d won easily, I still wouldn’t have known what it was like to be under that level of pressure.

“Stephen Maguire summed it up well, he said it could have ended my career if I had lost. It is funny how things pan out. To be honest though, I would have been alright if I hadn’t won. It would have hurt for quite a while, but I’m not the kind of guy to dwell on things. It is good to know I can come through in those sorts of situations.”

You suffered a difficult period during the 2017/18 season, losing your first ten matches of the campaign after making alterations to your cue. With your form having dramatically improved since then, are you now more settled with your cue?

“I’ve been settled ever since that really bad spell. That wrecked my head for a long time. Now I have been through that, I will never do something like that again with regards to my cue. I’ve been happy with it for a year and a half now and that is probably one of the reasons why things have picked up. Everyone is different, but I will have a better idea of what to do if I suffer a bad spell again.”

How important was it to start this season off with two victories at Riga Masters and International Championship qualifying?

“It was more pleasing that I kicked the season off with good performances. Even if I had lost them, I would have been relatively happy. They were both really tough matches and had they not gone my way, I wouldn’t have been that disappointed.

“I have been to Riga a few times and really like it there. That is a tournament that I will really enjoy. Daqing is one of the places in China that I haven’t been to yet. It is a long way to travel, but it will be interesting to see a new place.”