Davis form shows no sign of abating

St Leonards snooker star Mark Davis
St Leonards snooker star Mark Davis

Mark Davis’s Indian summer shows no sign of abating but former world champion Joe Johnson has warned the St Leonards potter that his window for claiming a maiden ranking title is about to slam shut.

A relative late-comer to snooker’s top table, Davis crowned a fine 2012 with his run to the UK Championship semi-final where he lost to Mark Selby but the 41-year-old is not getting any younger.

His form has shown no signs of fading though with the new season well underway, the right-hander making the quarter-finals at the Shanghai Masters and winning the six-red world title for the third time in his career.

But Johnson, who won the World Championship in 1986, has warned the world number 13 that the clock is ticking. A player in his 40s has not won the global crown since Ray Reardon back in 1978.

“Mark would have been a great player earlier in his career but he lacked that self belief. But it is that belief that is carrying him on now,” said Johnson.

“For Mark to have Terry Griffiths in his corner is fantastic, he knows the game as well as anybody and would have won a lot more than he did if it wasn’t for Steve Davis.

“Mark’s goal now will be to kick on, he was very consistent last year, but now he has to look to kick on and win tournaments. Mark has not got that long left now, it’s not a long career snooker, most of the guys who do really well start showing it in their early 20s.

“Whereas Mark has come good just the last couple of years, so he has at most five years to make the most of it. For players like Mark it is a case of making hay while the sun shines and they will feel that pressure, absolutely.

“They are not characters of the game like Ronnie O’Sullivan or Jimmy White so they won’t be doing fantastically on the exhibition circuit. Once the big money has gone, they have got to start putting some away and that will play a part in their thinking.”

The next big tournament on the schedule comes at the end of this month with the UK Championship, the first of the annual triple crown that includes the Masters and the worlds.

And Johnson, whose world title success in 1986 was the sole ranking event win of his career, admits it is hard to pick a winner in the new open-draw format that no longer sees the top 16 guaranteed a berth in the later rounds.

“It starts off as best of 11 frames and I’m a little sad to see it down to the best of 11s because I always like it to be best of 17s at the UK, Masters and worlds,” he added.

“I thought the UK and worlds shouldn’t be touched but it does mean that it all depends on the draw now which is exciting. If they all draw one another in the first rounds and all draw one another in the second rounds then it can change a lot.”

British Eurosport is the Home of Snooker, showing 19 tournaments this season including the World Championship, UK Championship, the Masters and all ranking events, available on Sky, Virgin Media & BT or online/on mobile via eurosportplayer.co.uk