Joe Perry has vowed to play “more attacking” snooker this season after admitting doubts had crept into his game in recent years.
The two-time ranking event winner has made a purposeful start to 2023-24, winning his opening Championship League group and qualifying for the European Masters courtesy of a commanding 5-0 victory over Muhammad Asif.
Perry has also been in decent scoring form, producing two centuries and a further eight breaks over 50 in his seven matches so far.
The early signs are positive for the former world number eight, who endured a generally modest 2022-23 campaign in which he compiled only 11 century breaks and reached a single quarter-final at the UK Championship.
And the Gentleman acknowledged the lack of fluency in his game culminated in a loss of confidence.
“I’m happy [with my game] so far. Not that I’ve been wonderful, but I think it’s the best start I’ve made for a couple of years,” he told Live Snooker.
“I want to make more of a conscious effort this year to start enjoying it more and play a bit more like I do in practise.
“The last few years, it’s been a bit stagnated with not many centuries or one-visit frames. I think I’ve been a little bit too cautious the past couple of years – maybe because my ranking was dropping, there were a few doubts creeping in.
“It doesn’t always work out how you want it to, but I’m going to try and be a bit more attacking this year.”
Now ranked 27th in the world, Perry hopes the positive approach will stand him in good stead heading into his 32nd season on the tour.
And the 49-year-old is generally relaxed regarding his expectations for the campaign.
“I’ve got to the stage where every year I have on tour as a professional is a bonus,” he added.
“I’d love to get back in the top 16, but I’m not going to drive myself mad and put in hours and hours to try and achieve that again.
“I’m quite happy to stay around the top 32 and top 40 for a few years. That was beyond my wildest dreams when I started out, but I’ll try to keep going as long as I can.”
Perry returns to action on Friday against a former practise partner in Sanderson Lam at the British Open qualifiers in Leicester.
The pair produced a combined two centuries and six more breaks over 50 when they collide at this year’s World Championship qualifiers, with the Gentleman eventually prevailing 10-8.
Nevertheless, Perry recognised the strides made by his opponent, who initially struggled to make a significant impact since first turning professional in 2015.
Indeed, Lam’s recent performances – including topping a Championship League ahead of Barry Hawkins at the start of this campaign – have seen him move to the brink of the top 64, and his opponent knows not to expect an easy ride when they lock horns once more.
“I was seeing a steady improvement [in Sanderson],” Perry added. “It wasn’t quite showing in his matches, he wasn’t quite getting the results that his practise game was showing. But it takes time.
“I was surprised by well he played against me [in the World Championship qualifiers]. He really stood up to the task and I was really impressed with him.
“I think he’s taken confidence from that. It’s going to be a much tougher match this year than it would have been two or three years ago. He’s really improved and it’s nice to see because he’s worked hard.”
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