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It’s crunch time of the season and there are some big matches coming up.
First we’ve got the China Open and then it’s onto the qualifiers for the World Championship; the jewel in the crown of the snooker season.
If this kind of schedule doesn’t get you motivated as a snooker player, you really have to question why you’re playing the game.
I’ve just arrived in Beijing for this year’s China Open and am looking forward to getting started in what is now one of the biggest events on the calendar with some fantastic prize money up for grabs.
My first match here is against Martin Gould who I know will be a very tough opponent. He’s probably one of the best players outside of the top 16, but I can take plenty of confidence into the match having beaten Jamie Jones in the qualifying and reaching the last 32 of the recent Welsh Open and Gibraltar Open.
All in all, it’s been a good start to 2018 for me. Off the table, I welcomed my beautiful baby daughter Bethany into the world and became a Dad for the second time. I’ve got to say this really does help to put things into perspective about my game. I suppose there is a slight added pressure on me now, but it’s not something that affects me while I’m playing. I tend to just get on with my matches and then it’s after I win a match that it becomes the first thing I think about because I know I’ve done it for both Bethany and Sophie.
I just think becoming a Dad gives me a bit more maturity and because I know what’s most important I just don’t let the little silly things bother me anymore.
On the table, results have also been largely positive including a very pleasing victory against Barry Hawkins.
I’ve also been working with a new coach for the past few months called John Farnworth. He’s been focusing on the mental side of the game with me and has just added a few tweaks to my tactical game. I hope I can see the benefits of this towards the end of the season and into next.

Once I’ve finished in China, it’s off to Sheffield to try to qualify for The Crucible. Like any player, I’d love to play there and be a real part of the best tournament of the season.
It’s always such a massive tournament because there are so many players fighting for tour survival. At present, I’m fifth placed on the one-year list of players not retaining their tour card via the top 64, so I feel well placed to regain my card.
You can never be over confident but I feel as though I’m playing well enough to do enough to finish the job in the last two events.
Thanks again for reading my blog and as always I appreciate all the support I get on Twitter. Enjoy the rest of the season!