Snooker star Davis targets his first ever ranking title on Sussex soil

Mark Davis
Mark Davis

If Mark Davis could win next month’s English Open in Crawley it would fulfil his biggest ambition after 27 years on the World Snooker Tour.

An impressive career has seen Davis, age 46, win several non-ranking tournaments and climb as high as 12th in the world. But he admits he won’t retire happy unless he wins a ranking title. And the perfect place to achieve that would be K2 Crawley, venue for the first ever major snooker event staged in his home county of Sussex.

“It’s disappointing that I have been a pro since 1991 and played in over 100 ranking events but never managed to win one,” said the Hastings-based cueman. “I’ve got no one to blame for that but myself. I have been all around the world and really enjoyed that side of it. But to lift a big trophy would make my career all the more special.”

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At the English Open, running from October 15-21, he’ll take his place in the starting line-up alongside 127 other players, including stellar names like World Champion Mark Williams, world number one Mark Selby, Judd Trump, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy and Jimmy White. Davis’s first hope is that his opening match is scheduled for an evening session, which would allow another ambition to be ticked off.

“My 11-year-old daughter Millie has never seen me play live in a tournament,” he explains. “Most of the events are either overseas or a long way from Sussex, so she’s never had the chance. My son Jack, who is 15, saw me play in the Masters in London a few years ago. They always support me and when I’m in China we’ll talk on the phone after my matches. But it would make a big difference if they could come to watch me in Crawley. If I’m playing during the day time they will be at school.

“So hopefully I will be drawn to play one evening, or make it through to the semi-finals at the weekend.

“It’s fantastic to have a tournament in Crawley, it makes a big difference to me only having to travel 50 miles or so. I’ll get some support from friends and it would be great to see a successful tournament as I hope it will stay the same venue for years to come.”

He names his best accomplishment as gaining a place among the world’s top 16 for the first time in 2013 at the age of 40. “I’m not sure that will ever be done again, for someone to do that for the first time after their 40th birthday,” he said. Last year, at the age of 44, he became the oldest player to make an official 147 maximum break.

And he has proved that he can beat the very best. Davis has been a bogey player for John Higgins over the years, winning six of their last seven matches, including victories at the UK Championship and the World Championship.

“He’s in my pocket,” jokes Davis when it is suggested to him that he has ‘owned’ Higgins in recent times. “No one rates John more highly than me, as far as I’m concerned it’s a toss up between him and Ronnie O’Sullivan as the greatest player ever.

Currently ranked 42nd in the world, Davis has had a strong start to the current season, winning ten of his first 13 matches. He believes he could still have years of success in the sport he loves.

Tickets for the English Open in Crawley are still available and start at just £10 – for ticket details see www.worldsnooker.com/tickets or call 0871 620 7052