No-one has benefitted more from Ronnie O’Sullivan’s indefinite exile from snooker more than St Leonards’ Mark Davis – but he is vowing to prove his worth on his own at the UK Championship.
The 40-year-old was ranked one place outside the world’s top 16 prior to four-time world champion O’Sullivan’s decision to miss the rest of the season earlier this month.
Courtesy of that, Davis jumped up to 16th and in doing so earned the privilege of a guaranteed place in the first round of the UK Championship, which begins this weekend.
However, while he has been afforded a degree of luck, there can be no denying Davis’ form this season with success at the Six-Red World Championship on top of three semi-final appearances.
He will face China’s Cao Yupeng, who came through qualifying, in the first round of the UK Championship on Sunday and he wants to show that he merits being in the world’s top 16.
“The whole year has been pretty good. I finished off last season well and have continued it on,” said Davis. “Winning the Six-Red was great and reaching the latter stages of tournaments is what I want to be doing.
“I got to the semis in China, Australia and Bulgaria so my year has been consistently good and I hope to gain as many ranking points as possible to make sure I can get into that top 16.
“It’s perhaps a little fortunate I don’t have to qualify but I can’t complain. I’ve been there or thereabouts for the last few years and I want to make sure I can stay there.
“There are a lot of names the public don’t necessarily know in qualifying who are very good and that makes it tough so in that respect it’s nice to not have to qualify.
“If you win tournaments you go up in the rankings. It’s as simple as that. I am probably playing some of the most consistent snooker of my career and my ranking shows that.”
Davis, a professional since 1991, revealed his work with former world and UK champion Terry Griffiths has perhaps gone some way to ensuring his visits to the table are becoming more frequent.
And with the UK Championship offering the second highest ranking points on the snooker tour, Davis hopes the extra incentive will allow him to continue challenging deep into the event.
“Terry Griffiths has been a massive help with the mental side of my game and it is a huge part,” he added. “We do work on the table for our whole careers but when you get to a certain standard it’s in the head and if you haven’t got that you will struggle.
“It’s one of biggest ranking tournaments so the more matches I win the better off I will be at the end of it.”
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 (410/411) and Virgin Media (521/525) or online/on mobile via eurosportplayer.co.uk
Before the UK Championship, Davis will take on 41st-ranked Xiao Guodong in the German Masters Qualifiers tonight (Thursday).