Ali Carter
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Ali Carter – ‘there is absolutely burnout’

Ali Carter believes an improved temperament and a smarter playing schedule will help him in his quest to land a maiden World Championship title this season in Sheffield.

The Captain has been in strong form throughout the 2023/24 campaign – reaching the finals of both the Wuhan Open and the prestigious Masters invitational.

Other runs to the latter stages of ranking tournaments have helped him rejoin the top eight in the world rankings.

That provided Carter with a spot at the inaugural Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker in Saudi Arabia earlier this month.

The 44 year-old has used his extra on-table competition time as an opportunity to cut back on practice and some of the smaller events on the calendar.

Competing in this week’s World Open and with qualification for the Tour Championship likely to come, Carter is hoping he can peak at the right time for the Crucible.

“I’ve won a load of matches this year,” Ali Carter told the WST Snooker Club podcast last week.

“I’ve gone deep in a lot of tournaments. I haven’t picked up a trophy yet, but it was important to keep fresh.”

“Everyone says, ‘burnout, what are you on about?’ But there is absolutely burnout.

“I chose not to play in the Championship League the week before Saudi, because I just had a really good run in the Players Champs.

“I lost to Mark Allen in the semis and played some really good stuff there. I thought, I don’t want to play in the Championship League, play all those matches, and end up playing myself out of form.

“If I was searching for form (it might be different) – like John Higgins, he had a great run in the Championship League, it was really important for him to play in it.

“He has started to come back somewhere near his best again, or showing signs of it. But for me, it’s just important to keep fresh now.

“As much as it’s been an asset of mine, my temperament has almost been a helper and a hinderer.

“I’ve been really working on that, and obviously I work with Chris Henry. I’ve got a great team behind the scenes, it’s really keeping me in a good place.

“I think when you get to my stage of a career, when you get back into the top 16, the opportunities that presents and you’re playing every week against top class opposition, it makes you feel like a top player again.

“When you’re down the rankings, you’re not in the [World] Grand Prix, the Players Championship, the Tour Champs, the Masters, the Champion of Champs – the list goes on and on.

“It’s very hard to keep turning up week on week, going to Barnsley and going to Leicester where, frankly, they don’t inspire you.

“That’s just me being honest. If I had just turned pro at 18, then fair enough. But I’m not, I’m 45 nearly. So that’s where I’m at.”

Carter, who was a World Championship finalist in 2008 and 2012 when he was denied glory on both occasions by Ronnie O’Sullivan, credits a change in his mental approach as a reason for his resurgence in form.

The 2023 German Masters winner played some of his best snooker ever at the Masters earlier this year, compiling a record nine tons at the Alexandra Palace before O’Sullivan got in his way again in the final.

“I am managing myself, and I’m constantly trying to be positive and tell myself positive things all the time.”

“When I played in the Masters back in January, I really believed I was going to win that event.

“Rather than telling yourself you’re going to lose, or someone is going to beat you or whatever, I thought why not just tell yourself you’re going to win it.

“I played really great stuff all week. That reminded me that I am a top player, because to play well in that atmosphere and that environment, you have to have a certain something about you.

“I know I didn’t win, but we had a really good game in the final. I made the most centuries that have ever been made there.

“If I can take that form into the Crucible, with that attitude, then I think with the game I’ve got I could be dangerous.

“And I believe, whether I win the World Championship or not, it doesn’t matter, but I believe for the first time this year that I can win it.

“I’m not saying that in a big-headed way, I’m just telling you how I feel.

“Obviously, scoring is a massive part of it. You cannot win the World Championship if you don’t score – it’s as simple as that.

“Winning frames easy in one visit. I can do that and I do do that. That’s what I keep telling myself.

“We’d all like to break-build like Ronnie, of course we would. But there’s more than one way to go about this game.

“As good as Ronnie O’Sullivan is, he doesn’t win every tournament. He pretty much does at the minute, the ones he enters, but there is room for other players to win.

“I honestly believe that I’m better now than I’ve ever been. I’m playing the best I’ve ever played, I’m making more centuries, I’m getting down the business end in more tournaments.

“I’m back in the top eight after all these years, because I’ve applied myself more. Being more professional about my practice, about looking after myself, about my attitude – everything.

“I’m aiming (to play) until I’m 50. I’m 45 in July, so I’m guaranteed to be in the top 16 for the next two or three years minimum because of the points I’ve built up.

“Who knows? I think I can go for as long as I want to, to be honest.”

Ali Carter reached the last 32 of the World Open in Yushan on Monday after completing a 5-3 victory over Louis Heathcote.

World Open Draw and Results

Round of 128 (bo9)

Judd Trump 5-2 Rory Thor
Sanderson Lam 5-4 Gong Chenzhi
David Gilbert 5-0 Anton Kazakov
Fan Zhengyi 5-2 Dylan Emery
Lukas Kleckers 5-2 Jack Lisowski
Dominic Dale 5-3 Marco Fu
Stuart Carrington 5-4 Gary Wilson
David Lilley 5-3 Scott Donaldson

Jak Jones 5-3 Ryan Thomerson
Ashley Hugill 5-1 Anthony McGill
David Grace 5-2 Rebecca Kenna
Kyren Wilson 5-0 Jimmy White
Jamie Jones 5-0 Rod Lawler
Ricky Walden 5-0 Peng Yisong
Ben Woollaston 5-4 Ben Mertens
Iulian Boiko 5-1 Baipat Siripaporn

Mark Selby 5-3 Xing Zihao
Adam Duffy 5-4 Mark Davis
Si Jiahui 5-1 Stan Moody
Long Zehuang 5-4 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
John Higgins 5-1 Ross Muir
Jackson Page 5-3 Liam Graham
Zhou Yuelong 5-1 Jiang Jun
Wu Yize 5-2 Julien Leclercq

Matthew Stevens 5-3 Hammad Miah
Ryan Day 5-4 Andrew Higginson
Elliot Slessor 5-2 Reanne Evans
Zhang Anda 5-3 Allan Taylor
He Guoqiang 5-2 Jimmy Robertson
Matthew Selt 4-5 Wang Xinbo
Daniel Wells 5-1 Liam Highfield
Mark Allen 5-1 Andres Petrov

Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-3 Alfie Burden
Michael White 5-2 Haydon Pinhey
Lyu Haotian 5-2 Ashley Carty
Aaron Hill 5-4 Joe O’Connor
Robert Milkins 5-2 Barry Pinches
Sam Craigie 5-0 Ken Doherty
Hossein Vafaei 5-2 Liam Pullen
Graeme Dott 5-2 Ian Burns

Cao Yupeng 5-0 Rory McLeod
Noppon Saengkham 5-4 Himanshu Jain
Liu Hongyu 5-1 Jamie Clarke
Ding Junhui 5-3 Zak Surety
Sean O’Sullivan 5-1 Xiao Guodong
Joe Perry 5-4 Martin O’Donnell
Xu Si 5-0 Andrew Pagett
Shaun Murphy 5-0 Mohamed Ibrahim

Neil Robertson 5-0 Victor Sarkis
Tian Pengfei 5-1 Mink Nutcharut
Ishpreet Singh Chadha 5-3 Stuart Bingham
Yuan Sijun 5-3 Alexander Ursenbacher
Ali Carter 5-1 Ahmed Aly Elsayed
Louis Heatchote 5-0 Oliver Lines
Chris Wakelin 5-2 Andy Hicks
Jordan Brown 5-1 Lan Yuhao

Robbie Williams 5-3 Andy Lee
Tom Ford 5-2 Ma Hailong
Jenson Kendrick 5-3 Anthony Hamilton
Barry Hawkins 5-3 Steven Hallworth
Stephen Maguire 5-1 Mostafa Dorgham
Pang Junxu 5-2 James Cahill
Oliver Brown 5-4 Mark Joyce
Luca Brecel 5-1 Manasawin Phetmalaikul

Round of 64 (bo9)

Judd Trump 5-2 Sanderson Lam
Fan Zhengyi w/o David Gilbert
Lukas Kleckers 4-5 Dominic Dale
Stuart Carrington 4-5 David Lilley
Jak Jones 0-5 Ashley Hugill
David Grace 4-5 Kyren Wilson
Jamie Jones 4-5 Ricky Walden
Ben Woollaston w/o Iulian Boiko

Mark Selby w/o Adam Duffy
Si Jiahui 2-5 Long Zehuang
John Higgins 3-5 Jackson Page
Zhou Yuelong 1-5 Wu Yize
Matthew Stevens 5-2 Ryan Day
Elliot Slessor 5-3 Zhang Anda
He Guoqiang 5-4 Wang Xinbo
Daniel Wells 5-3 Mark Allen

Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-3 Michael White
Lyu Haotian 5-4 Aaron Hill
Robert Milkins w/o Sam Craigie
Hossein Vafaei 5-1 Graeme Dott
Cao Yupeng 5-3 Noppon Saengkham
Liu Hongyu 2-5 Ding Junhui
Sean O’Sullivan 1-5 Joe Perry
Xu Si 3-5 Shaun Murphy

Neil Robertson 5-3 Tian Pengfei
Ishpreet Singh Chadha 3-5 Yuan Sijun
Ali Carter 5-3 Louis Heathcote
Chris Wakelin 5-4 Jordan Brown
Robbie Williams 5-4 Tom Ford
Jenson Kendrick 2-5 Barry Hawkins
Stephen Maguire 5-3 Pang Junxu
Oliver Brown 2-5 Luca Brecel

Round of 32 (bo9)

Judd Trump 5-3 Fan Zhengyi
Dominic Dale 2-5 David Lilley
Ashley Hugill 3-5 Kyren Wilson
Ricky Walden 4-5 Ben Woollaston

Mark Selby 5-2 Long Zehuang
Jackson Page 5-3 Wu Yize
Matthew Stevens 1-5 Elliot Slessor
He Guoqiang 3-5 Daniel Wells

Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-2 Lyu Haotian
Robert Milkins 2-5 Hossein Vafaei
Cao Yupeng 1-5 Ding Junhui
Joe Perry 3-5 Shaun Murphy

Neil Robertson 5-2 Yuan Sijun
Ali Carter 1-5 Chris Wakelin
Robbie Williams 2-5 Barry Hawkins
Stephen Maguire 5-1 Luca Brecel

Round of 16 (bo9)

Judd Trump 5-3 David Lilley
Kyren Wilson 5-4 Ben Woollaston

Mark Selby 2-5 Jackson Page
Elliot Slessor 5-2 Daniel Wells

Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-5 Hossein Vafaei
Ding Junhui 5-3 Shaun Murphy

Neil Robertson 5-1 Chris Wakelin
Barry Hawkins 5-1 Stephen Maguire

Quarter-Finals (bo9)

Judd Trump 5-2 Kyren Wilson
Jackson Page 5-2 Elliot Slessor

Hossein Vafaei 0-5 Ding Junhui
Neil Robertson 5-2 Barry Hawkins

Semi-Finals (bo11)

Judd Trump 6-2 Jackson Page
Ding Junhui 6-5 Neil Robertson

Final (bo19)

Judd Trump 10-4 Ding Junhui

Featured photo credit: WST

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