In-form Neil Robertson has delivered a warning to his rivals that he is “ready to peak again” as he launches his quest for a second Crucible title.
World number three Robertson arrives at snooker’s blue-riband event having already captured the UK Championship and Tour Championship crowns this season.
The Australian, who was also runner-up to Mark Allen at the Champion of Champions in November, will begin his first-round clash with former English Open winner Liang Wenbo today.
The left-handers also locked horns at the opening stage of the delayed 2020 World Championship, with Robertson prevailing a 10-5 victor.
Crucible champion in 2010, ‘The Thunder’ has reached back-to-back quarter-finals in the past two years in Sheffield.
Despite leading 7-5, he succumbed 13-10 to an inspired John Higgins in 2019, before going down 13-7 against Mark Selby in last year’s event.
But the 39-year-old feels this season has proved he learned his lessons from those defeats.
And with two big titles already in the bag for the campaign – taking his career ranking event tally to 20 – the game’s most successful overseas player has also enjoyed notable success on the practice table leading up to the event.
“I feel really good. Practise has been going very well,” Robertson told Live Snooker.
“I actually made back-to-back 147s against a mate of mine the other day.
“I feel as though I’m getting ready to peak again for the Worlds.
“I showed a lot of good signs last year and the year before; I looked like doing really well.
“I came across two of the greatest match players who give nothing away. I allowed both of those matches to fall away a little, where I felt I wasn’t playing the match on my terms.
“That was one takeaway from last year coming into this season. For a large part of it, I’ve played on my terms, so it’s just really important to do that.
“The key for me is to play open, quick frames. I can grind it out when I need to, but the importance is certainly on attacking play.
“To go in winning two of the three biggest events so far this season will definitely hold me in good stead for the challenge of potentially 17 days at the World Championship.”
Robertson will certainly be hoping to replicate the ruthless performance levels he demonstrated on route to lifting the Tour Championship trophy last month.
Continuing to sport his long and curly natural hair, the world number three was head and shoulders above the rest of the elite eight-man field in Newport.
After opening with a commanding 10-5 win over fellow left-hander Jack Lisowski, he swept Selby aside 10-3 in the semi-finals.
Robertson then reeled off six successive frames to complete a resounding 10-4 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final; making five centuries along the way and taking his overall tally for the week to 11.
And he knows he must produce something similar at the Crucible by stamping his authority on proceedings at every opportunity.
“It’s nice to be heading into the World Championship having just won the Tour Championship a couple of weeks ago,” he added.
“It was definitely the best I’ve ever played in a tournament from start to finish – especially at such a prestigious event where it’s just the top eight in the world based on this season’s performances.
“Every player would have been going there thinking they had a realistic chance of winning it.
“The players I beat along the way certainly justified why I felt it was the best I’d played at a tournament.
“I put a lot of pressure on my opponents’ long potting to make sure that they knew they’d be leaving me in after every attempt that they missed.
“My scoring was good and I played every match on my terms; that’s the sort of thing I need to do more often at the World Championship.”