Davis aiming for double over O’Sullivan

St Leonards snooker star Mark Davis will take on Ronnie O'Sullivan at the German Masters this afternoon
St Leonards snooker star Mark Davis will take on Ronnie O'Sullivan at the German Masters this afternoon

Snooker star Mark Davis is aiming to complete the double over the great Ronnie O’Sullivan.

The St Leonards cueman overcame the Rocket in the Championship League group five final on Tuesday, last week, and the two men will meet again in round one of the German Masters this afternoon (Thursday).

Despite being the underdog once again at Berlin’s Tempodrom, that result gives Davis a slight psychological advantage going into the contest and he fancies his chances of a second victory in the space of nine days.

“Obviously Ronnie is a massive favourite, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t win on any given day,” he said. “I’ve got to play my best to have a chance of winning, but I’ve beaten him before so I can do it again.

“It’s no different to playing anybody else: if you get your chance, you’ve got to take it and score heavily – it’s as simple as that.”

Davis reached the quarter-finals in Berlin last year, where he was beaten in a deciding frame by Rod Lawler. It was his second appearance in the last eight of the event, having also achieved the feat back in 1996 – the first time he ever reached that stage of a ranking event.

The 42-year-old describes the Tempodrom as one of his favourite venues and cannot wait to get started in the German capital.

“I like the way the arena is set up, with the TV table surrounding by a number of other ones in a circle,” he explained. “The crowd’s always brilliant in Germany – they love their snooker over there. It should be a brilliant tournament and I’m looking forward to it.”

Davis continued his good recent form in the Championship League from the back end of 2014, when he got to the quarter-finals of the UK Championship and last four of the Lisbon Open.

Victory over O’Sullivan was third time lucky for him, having fallen at the final hurdle of the previous two groups at Crondon Park Golf Club in Essex.

He holds the invitational tournament in high regard, as it provides him with very important match practice ahead of what will be a hectic final part of the 2014/15 season.

“It’s a bonus tournament really and it’s quite close to home which is handy!” he laughs. “You’re playing top players in every single match so it is very good match practice, and you’re lucky to have it with such a busy schedule coming up.”

Although he is pleased with his current performance levels, Davis feels that his form at his first event of 2015 had been fairly patchy.

And while the increased number of tournaments helps towards improving his overall game, he believes that he still needs to make a few alterations before getting back to his absolute best.

“I had a little break over Christmas so that may have been why I was a little up and down last week,” he admitted. “I think my game’s okay, but I’m not quite as consistent as I was in the last year to 18 months.

“I know my best play is there, it’s just about finding little things here and there to get it kick-started once more.”

With so many major tournaments coming up and vital ranking money at stake, the world number 19’s main aim is to regain his place in the top 16 ahead of the World Championship.

Should Davis qualify for snooker’s blue riband event, he wants to improve on his fairly modest form in Sheffield over the years which has seen him only get past the first round on three occasions.

“It’s an amazing place but I’ve never played my best there for whatever reason – I can’t really put my finger on it,” he conceded.

“I’d love to try and produce the goods at the Crucible because you don’t know when you’re going to play there again.”

While the top 16 players are seeded straight through to the televised stages, this year the remaining players will each have to come through three qualifying rounds to secure their passages.

Davis, therefore, is wary of the situation and now has extra incentive to get back amongst the elite ahead of snooker’s blue riband event.

“It’s certainly in my mind – I don’t want to be playing in round one qualifying!” he said.

“It seems a bit harsh that the world number 17 should have to play the same amount of qualifying games as the world number 128, but it is what it is and you’ve got to get on with it. There’s no point in moaning about it.”

With money obtained from corresponding ranking events in the 2012/13 season being dropped as this campaign progresses, Davis could oddly find himself at an advantage.

While he didn’t enjoy too much success during that period, current top 16 players like Graeme Dott and Robert Milkins enjoyed a couple of deep runs in that time.

However, Davis played down the importance of potentially losing less money than his opponents – putting it down to just being the luck of the draw.

“There’s always ups and downs to that,” he observed. “Obviously, you want to do well at the time, but then you have less points or money to come off two years later.

“I haven’t really studied it in detail, but I know that I probably have a few less points coming off than some of the others. In that instance, at this time in the calendar, it’s just a bonus.”

Other than getting back into the world’s top 16, Davis’ main goal for the season is to get his first ranking tournament win under his belt. And, understandably, he is not overly pedantic about where the trophy comes from.

“I’d like to win a ranking tournament, whether it’s a PTC or a major. One or the other is the aim, or both would be better!” he smiled. “I’ll take whatever comes and go from there.”