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Ryan Day: How his maiden ranking title had been a long time coming

Day proudly lifts the Riga Masters trophy

On Sunday, Ryan Day became the latest player to join the ever-growing list of ranking event winners after enjoying his maiden success at the Riga Masters.

Widely considered the best players never to capture any silverware 19 years after turning pro, the Welshman’s victory was a very popular one within the snooker community, as many fellow professionals offering their congratulations across social media.

The top prize of £50,000 was also the highest pay-cheque of the 37-year-old’s career to date but, after so many years of trying without success, what was the key to him finally breaking his duck?

Well, consistently putting himself in the latter stages of events during the second half of the 2016/17 season will certainly have helped his cause.

Following a slow start to the campaign, in an exclusive interview with livesnooker.com back in March, Day revealed that participating in the invitational Championship League, where he would eventually reach the final, was instrumental towards his upturn in fortune.

The Welshman got to the German Masters quarter-finals before narrowly losing out to Barry Hawkins in the World Grand Prix showpiece – his first ranking event final for nearly nine years – and subsequently returned to the top 16 in time for the World Championship.

It’s fair to say he didn’t really do himself justice at the Crucible after losing 10-4 to Xiao Guodong in the opening round, but the 37-year-old has quickly put that behind him and started the new campaign with a bang.

Day looked to be heading for an early exit in Riga at 3-1 down against Hawkins in the first round, but produced some brilliant snooker when it mattered the most with a run of 77 to force a decider, in which a timely ton completed a wonderful turnaround.

He was also in danger in round three as Kyren Wilson made a strong start with breaks of 102 and 78 quickly establishing a 2-0 lead. However, ‘Dynamite’ responded by winning the next three frames before prevailing in another decider.

It was that character and determination that also proved essential in his all-Welsh semi-final with Mark Williams. After seeing a 2-0 lead become a 3-2 deficit, Day managed to get back in front at 4-3 before missing the pink to secure a 5-3 success.

His heart must have sunk when he then went in-off with Williams needing a snooker and subsequently being pegged back to a decider, in which he fell 32-0 behind.

Nevertheless, the man from Pontycymer once again dusted himself down and produced at the most important time – making a break of 77 to see himself over the line.

The ability to come through tight matches, recover from the brink and triumph in adversity are all signs in snooker that a player’s name is on the trophy and, unlike the World Grand Prix final when a slow start left him trailing 9-3 and too far behind to come back, Day looked buoyant as he raced into a 4-0 lead against Stephen Maguire in the final.

If the Welshman was feeling the pressure, he certainly didn’t show it. A thin brown that he knocked into the right centre pocket with the white tight on the baulk cushion demonstrated his belief and ability to rise to the big occasion.

Although nerves started to show a little when he was on the brink of victory, there was no panic when Maguire cut the deficit to 4-2. A run of 58 in the next frame eventually proved to be decisive and the way in which he was embraced by the Scotsman shows how popular his success really was.

The 59th different winner of a full ranking event, Day now has that monkey well and truly off his back and will subsequently have the confidence of adding to his silverware collection as a result.

Yet another example of a player blossoming in their late thirties and early forties with so many tournaments on offer, could this only be the start for Ryan Day?



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Ryan Day: How his maiden ranking title had been a long time coming

On Sunday, Ryan Day became the latest player to join the ever-growing list of ranking event winners after enjoying his maiden success at the Riga Masters but, after so many years of trying without success, what was the key to him finally breaking his duck?

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