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Joe Perry ready to embrace “vibrant” German crowd at European Masters

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Perry plays Ross Muir in Nuremberg on Tuesday (PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

Joe Perry is relishing the prospect of playing more overseas tournaments this season, admitting he had become disillusioned by the lack of travelling in recent years.

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent imposing of travel restrictions resulted in many of the tournaments on the calendar being played in the United Kingdom.

In fact, there have been just seven overseas tournaments played in the past three seasons – though that tally is set to be matched this term with the welcome return of Chinese-based events.

Perry and his fellow professionals are embarking on their first continental trip of the season at the European Masters, which is being staged at the Kia Metropol Arena in Nuremberg for the first time.

And the Gentleman is excited to be heading back to Germany – one of the most popular destinations on the tour.

“I really missed travelling,” he told Live Snooker.

“I think that’s why a lot of my love for playing snooker has gone over the past couple of years – because it was pretty boring in comparison to how it was a few years ago.

“This year, we’ve got a chance to spread our wings again and get flying around the world.

“I’m looking forward to Germany. The fans are so passionate and love their snooker. It’s a new venue, but I’m sure the fans will be as vibrant as they always have been.”

Perry plays Ross Muir in the last 64 on Tuesday – a player he thumped 10-1 in their only previous meeting at the 2018 World Championship qualifiers.

But the two-time ranking event winner admits that dominant victory will serve little relevance this time around, and knows he cannot take any chances against the world number 110.

“It’s nice to have that win under your belt, but it was five years ago,” he said. “You would assume I’m on the slow incline, whereas you’d like to think these younger players are on the steady rise.

“I’m sure Ross is a much better player than he was five years ago, while I’m probably not as sharp as I was back in 2018.

“All these players are so capable; you’ve only got to be slightly off your game on the day and you’re in trouble. It’s going to be hard to win if you’re not performing.”

Although, Perry does have fond memories of the European Masters – reaching the final five years ago before losing out 9-6 to Jimmy Robertson.

The Gentleman enjoyed commanding wins over the likes of Oliver Lines, Kyren Wilson and Anthony Hamilton. But he was unable to hit the ground running in the final, having to constantly play catch-up after falling 5-0 behind.

Nevertheless, the 49-year-old draws on the positives of his performances that week in Lommel.

“I just got off to such an awful start. It was probably the first final where I started as favourite and I just never settled early enough,” he recalls.

“I put myself under too much pressure to get off to a good start. But I did the opposite and let him settle. Jimmy played really well and did what he had to do, but I made it too difficult for myself.

“I remember playing really well that week. I was really strong and beat some good players. I didn’t just win, I won properly.

“There weren’t any moments when I was lucky to stay alive; it was proper snooker until the first five frames of the final when it all unravelled.”

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