Mark Allen credits an improved capacity to handle the mental side of the game after continuing his strong form at the English Open.
In what was a repeat of the UK Championship final from earlier this month, the Pistol fought back from 3-1 behind to pip Ding Junhui in a decider.
Allen, who only arrived for his opening game on Monday with hours to spare after negotiating the poor weather, compiled breaks of 86, 94, and 113 in the last three frames.
The 36 year-old is bidding this week to capture a third ranking title of what has been an excellent campaign so far.
- CLICK HERE: Mark Allen wins maiden UK Championship title
“I wasn’t enjoying the start of that match,” Mark Allen told the World Snooker Tour after reaching the last 16 of the English Open.
“I missed a few easy ones in the first couple of frames, my focus just wasn’t there – it’s been really good lately.”
“I wasn’t feeling my best today if I’m being honest, I really struggled with a bad headache all day. I’ve spent most of the day in a dark room just lying down.
“Maybe that was a bit of a hangover from that, getting into the match. But I felt like from 3-1 I really switched on.
“Back against the wall sort of stuff – you have to do it now or you’re going home – and I played some really good stuff in that last three frames.
“As much as I wasn’t feeling great, I was enjoying the challenge of trying to get over that against a very, very good player in Ding.
“Today was an exception because of the headache, but in general I’m not as tired as I was (before losing weight), I’m able to get around the table better, and I don’t feel out of breath when I’m playing.
“All those little things add up. My mental state is really good, so I’m actually enjoying the challenge that each different match and tournament brings.
“I feel like I’m a much more rounded player now. I feel like my long game is not as good as it was, but in general my scoring is always pretty good and my safety has definitely improved compared to ten or eleven years ago.
“I think my mental state is just so much better. I always felt like I was pretty strong mentally, but in the last six months I think I’ve gone up a level in that.
“I don’t think there’s any doubting that myself and all the other top players can do what the others can do.
“I think more often than not matches are won and lost, and tournaments are won and lost, with what we have between our ears.”
Elsewhere on day three in Brentwood, seven more players booked their spots in the last 16 of the calendar year’s final ranking tournament.
Reigning English Open champion Neil Robertson didn’t let a late start time of 10pm affect him as the Australian romped to a 4-0 glory over Elliot Slessor.
Earlier, Judd Trump matched that scoreline with a comprehensive defeat of Fraser Patrick, while Mark Selby overcame Wu Yize 4-1.
John Higgins kept his hopes of securing a World Grand Prix berth alive with a comeback deciding-frame victory against Robert Milkins.
British Open champion Ryan Day, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, and Jamie Jones also made it through to the fourth round – the latter with a 4-1 triumph against Kyren Wilson.
Meanwhile, the round of 32 concluded with the likes of world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, Shaun Murphy, Jack Lisowski, Zhao Xintong, and Luca Brecel emerging successfully from their latest fixtures.
English Open Draw
Neil Robertson 4-0 Elliot Slessor
Ryan Day 4-3 Ricky Walden
Marco Fu vs Barry Hawkins
Matthew Selt vs Mark Williams
John Higgins 4-3 Robert Milkins
Jack Lisowski vs Ali Carter
Anthony McGill vs Shaun Murphy
Mark Selby 4-1 Wu Yize
Judd Trump 4-0 Fraser Patrick
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 4-1 Yuan Sijun
Scott Donaldson vs Luca Brecel
Jamie Jones 4-1 Kyren Wilson
Zhao Xintong vs John Astley
Mark Allen 4-3 Ding Junhui
Pang Junxu vs Ashley Hugill
Martin Gould vs Ronnie O’Sullivan
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Featured photo credit: WST