John Astley admits he remains in a state of disbelief following his remarkable comeback win over Kyren Wilson to seal a place in the 2017 German Masters.
The Gateshead cueist looked dead and buried in the second qualifying round at the Barnsley Metrodome when he trailed 4-0 against the world number 16 – scoring just eight points before the mid-session interval.
However, he produced a brilliant turnaround after the break by reeling off five consecutive frames to clinch victory in a dramatic decider.
“I don’t really know how I did it, to be honest. Before the interval, he was playing really well and I didn’t get myself into the match,” Astley told livesnooker.com.
“I’d scored just eight points in the first four frames, but only missed two shots that I shouldn’t have and was 4-0 down. I knew that if I got a chance to get myself going then I could win a few frames and really make him have to earn the win.”
"I took each frame as it came, tried to play the right shots and treat every frame like it was the decider.
“I think it’s the first time I’ve ever won a match from 4-0 down. Doing that against anybody is a good achievement but, against a player like Kyren, is an even bigger achievement.”
It was the latest notable achievement during what has been a successful return to the tour for the world number 79, who has also reached the Riga Open quarter-finals as well as the Last 16 of the Indian Open.
Astley is enjoying his second spell as a professional having also appeared on the circuit from 2013 to 2015, and believes that a combination of being happier off the table and having more confidence has been key to his improved performances.
The 27-year-old is widely known for starring in the play, The Nap, at the Crucible earlier in the year – appearing for 28 straight nights at the iconic venue.
And the opportunity came at a very good time for Astley, who has reaped the benefits of regularly performing in front of a packed crowd on the big stage.
“I was playing in a pressurised environment every night for nearly a month,” he remembered.
“It wasn’t long before Q School, so was a very good confidence booster and really good preparation for that.
“It would’ve been interesting to see how it might have turned out had I not done the play.”
Astley will be appearing at another popular venue in February, having booked his place at the stunning Tempodrom in Berlin following that victory over Wilson, and he is understandably relishing the occasion.
“I’m really looking forward to it. It’s quite hard to qualify because of having to win two matches to get there, so it’s another big thing to tick off for this season,” he said.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about the venue and Berlin and I’m expecting a good crowd, so it should be quite exciting and it’ll probably make me even more determined to go back.”
Before that, the snooker schedule for 2016 draws to a close at the Scottish Open – the third leg of the inaugural Home Nation Series that commences on Monday.
Astley has been handed a tricky first-round clash with home favourite and reigning Indian Open champion Anthony McGill, but will approach the match with plenty of belief after his recent exploits.
“I’ve got quite a tough draw playing Anthony McGill in his own back yard,” he added.
“He’ll be right up for it playing in his home tournament, but I’ll be going in full of confidence after last week’s results.
“Hopefully, it’ll be on one of the televised tables, which will be another good experience.
“It’s the best of seven frames so anything can happen and, I know that if I play well, I’m capable of beating him.”