In-form Barry Hawkins is hopeful that a consistent season on the tour will culminate in him creating even more magical memories at the World Championship.
World number 11 Hawkins arrives at the Crucible in fine fettle following an impressive 2020-21 campaign that has put him in seventh place on the one-year list.
The Hawk reached the semi-finals at the German Masters and Tour Championship, where he lost out in deciding frames against Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan respectively.
On both occasions, Hawkins was just unable to convert commanding leads; surrendering a 5-1 advantage against Trump and been clawed back by O’Sullivan from 9-6 up.
The 2013 World finalist, who also got to the last four of the Players Championship in February, is feeling confident heading back to Sheffield, where he has reached a further four semis after that run to the showpiece eight years ago.
Today, the Kent cueist launches his quest for a maiden title against former Indian Open champion Matthew Selt, who is back for a third Crucible appearance.
And the 41-year-old, who turns 42 on Friday, cannot wait to get down to business.
“This time of year is always really exciting,” Hawkins told Live Snooker.
“It’s been a solid year so far. It’s nice to turn up off the back of a couple of decent runs.
“The Crucible’s been quite good to me – especially since getting to the final in 2013.
“I’ve had a few good runs there, played some unbelievable matches against some great players along the way. I’ve got really good memories.
“It’s nice to be going back there as a seed, and not going through that tough qualifying school.
“I’m really looking forward to it. It’s just a matter of getting out there, getting settled and just trying to carry on my good form.”
Hawkins’ place at the Crucible was in jeopardy at the start of the season.
Following a tricky couple of years on the tour, he began the campaign ranked outside of the world’s top 16 for the first time since 2012-13.
However, the Hawk knuckled down on the practise table and reaped his rewards by quickly regaining his place among the game’s elite.
He has subsequently consolidated that status with those semi-final appearances, and is hoping to continue on the upward curve.
“My main aim for the start of the year was to try and get back in the top 16 before the qualifying event came around,” he added.
“Obviously, this year’s been tough for everybody, but it’s given me the opportunity to really knuckle down and consistently practise.
“I’ve been in the top 16 for quite a long time, so I knew I could get in there. It was just a matter of putting the work in and trying to get results under my belt.
“The more results you get, the more confidence you build and the rankings take care of themselves.
“I’m really pleased with the way it’s gone over the past few months.
“I must try to keep my head down and continue in the right direction.”