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Ali Carter reaping rewards of improved temperament at the Masters

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Carter feels an improved mindset is standing him in good stead (Taka G Wu/Alamy Live News)

Ali Carter revealed the adaptation of a more positive mindset is paying dividends after reaching the quarter-finals at the Masters.

The Captain marked his return to Alexandra Palace after a four-year absence with a hard-earned 6-4 victory over two-time champion Mark Williams on Monday.

Carter, who was runner-up to Stuart Bingham in 2020, subsequently advanced to the last eight for only the fourth time in 13 appearances at snooker’s most prestigious invitational event.

Although, the match provided a strong test of his credentials. Indeed, he was forced to come from behind on three occasions, before hitting back-to-back centuries and closing out victory with gutsy breaks of 61 and 66.

Carter, whose nickname derives from his love of flying planes in his spare time, admits the thought of walking away from the sport in recent years prompted him to address his mindset and temperament.

“I’ve got on my own case too much in the past,” he told Eurosport.

“This game’s hard enough as it is. You’ve got your opponent who wants to beat you and you can beat yourself as well.

“I’ve thrown so many matches away in the past through my own stupidity. I’m 45 this year and you can’t afford to throw too many more matches away.

“A few years ago, I was thinking not about jacking it in, but about becoming a commercial pilot. I thought: ‘Hang on, I’ve been in the top 16 before, I’ve won tournaments and how much am I putting in?’

“If I’m honest, I was so unprofessional. I was turning up, having a sandwich in the car, four hours driving, playing the qualifiers.”

The five-time ranking event acknowledged it would have been easy to have allowed negative thoughts to creep in during the crucial stages against Williams, but was pleased with the way he handled himself.

“As snooker players, we all know how tough it is,” he added. “If you’re telling yourself the wrong things mentally and getting it that rut, it’s such a difficult game and sole-destroying.

“When everything’s going well and you feel good, the game comes easy. But believe me, when you’re not feeling that way, all you can see is problems.

“The balls were all there to win [against Mark]. If I wasn’t confident, all I could think about is how to mess it up. Instead, I was thinking: ‘there’s no way I’m going to miss here. I’m not leaving this table until it’s over’.

“When I went four-all, I said to myself: ‘Hang on a minute, I’ve been in the final here so when you get your chance, have that in the back of your head’. I just tried to remain positive.”