Mark Davis has his sights set on a place in the Play-Offs of the Winners’ Group at the 2017 Championship League in Coventry, but admits the title is anybody’s for the taking.
The Hastings cueist is appearing at the final hurdle of the invitational internet-streamed event for the third time in his career, after winning group three back in January.
Davis, who reached the final in 2015 before narrowly losing 3-2 to Stuart Bingham, is aiming to go the extra step two years on, although he knows that, despite the low-key nature of the competition, he cannot afford to cut his opponents any slack over the two days.
“I love the tournament, I’ve had some pretty good years in the event,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to get some game time under your belt and win a decent amount of money as well.
“You can’t do too much wrong because they’re all good players and you have to make the most of it. I’m just concentrating on my game, have positive thoughts and see what it brings.
“You can’t make silly mistakes over these shorter formats and just play good solid snooker. The main priority is to get into the top four and, once you’re there, it’s anybody’s really.”
The world number 32 arrived in Coventry having reached the quarter-finals of three ranking events so far this season – doing so at the Paul Hunter Classic, European Masters and Scottish Open.
He has also began 2017 in decent fashion by recording an impressive 4-3 victory from 3-0 down against Ronnie O’Sullivan in the third round of the Welsh Open last month.
And, understandably, it was a result that he drew plenty of confidence from.
“I’ve been playing pretty well since the New Year,”
Davis in action at The Crucible (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
he observed. “I’m practising hard and hitting the ball a lot better than I was.
“There are still a few things to work on but, hopefully, I can get the benefit more next season.
“Any time you beat Ronnie is a great result, especially on TV. At 3-0 down, you’re not in a good position but you’re never out of it and haven’t lost.
“I just took one frame at a time, he made a few mistakes and I started scoring when I had a chance.”
Davis’ other main achievement so far during this calendar year came courtesy of his first-ever maximum break against Neil Robertson in the group three final.
The 44-year-old achieved snooker’s Holy Grail for the first time in his 25-year career at the Ricoh Arena – notably crashing in a stunning opening red which paved the way to a further 14 followed by blacks and all the colours.
He also managed to tick a lifelong ambition off the list as a result, and is hoping that another will follow soon.
“I’d never had one in my career and not really been too close. I’d have been happy to win the frame with 30 but, to do it like that, was brilliant,” he reflected.
“Neil played such a good safety shot and left me with no choice but to go for the long red. It was unfortunate for him because, more often than not, I wouldn’t have potted that red as it was so tough, but I played it positive to get on the black and I was really pleased.
“It was one of the things that I wanted to do in my career along with winning a ranking event, but I’ve done it now so I can tick it off and, hopefully, win one or two titles before I retire.”