John Higgins admits his victory at the Championship League last week provided him with a vital and timely confidence boost ahead of the Players Championship in Llandudno.
The Scotsman, who plays Ding Junhui in the opening round on Wednesday, claimed his third title of the season by capturing the invitational internet-streamed event last Thursday – beating Ryan Day 3-0 in the final at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
That came after Higgins had exited at the first hurdle in three of his opening four tournaments at the start of 2017 and, despite a subsequent second-round loss at the Gibraltar Open at the weekend, he is fully aware of the importance of that upturn in fortune.
“I’ve started this year with three first-round defeats, so it was good to go down to Coventry and get a few matches under my belt and get any sort of win to give me a little bit of confidence,” he told livesnooker.com.
“Luckily for me, I managed to win the tournament but, if I didn’t play there, I’d have been going to the Players Championship low on confidence.
“Hopefully, I can go to Llandudno playing better than I have been, get a few more wins and see where it takes me.”
However, following the significant growth of the calendar in recent years, the 41-year-old maintains a very philosophical approach with regards to form.
“I’ve always told myself not to get to high with the highs and not to get too low with the lows,” he said. “Although I’ve lost a fair bit lately, I’ve not taken it too hard and have quickly got back on the practice table.
“If you lost a few years ago, you’d have a couple of months to stew on it but, now, just a few wins will make you feel better about yourself.
“Whether it’s at the Championship League or UK Championship, it just gives you a boost and that’s all you can hope for.”
The season is approaching the final stretch with this event followed by the China Open at the end of March, before reaching its final climax at the World Championship in April.
And, although he argues that his own personal experience suggests otherwise, the four-time World champion insists that it is at this stage of the campaign that all players should be looking to hit their peak performance levels.
“Before, I’ve been to Sheffield playing really well and not done great, but also gone there struggling and managed to play OK,” he added.
“But this is the right time to start hitting form because it puts you in with a chance of doing well in China and then the Crucible."