Do you see an outsider having a chance?
I don’t think you can write an outsider off to be honest. You could honestly pick 8 players to win and none of them would be in the final. It’s so tough. Ryan Day is a fantastic player, Neil Robertson has won a couple of tournaments now. The roar that comes up when he steps out at the streame fodbold gratis is phenomenal, so I’m there will be lots that are missing him. I hear he is here working for the BBC so they’ll still see him. Obviously with Paul it’s very sad he’s not here.
It does take a special type of mentality to win here though doesn’t it?
There’s no doubt it does, I know Shaun and myself have won it the last couple of years and we hadn’t won a tournament. Normally the people who win it have won another tournament before they win the World Championships.
Are you surprised that Ronnie hasn’t won it more times?
It shows how tough the game is when somebody like Ronnie hasn’t won for something like 22 months. John Higgins has only won it once and he’s a fantastic player. He’s one of the best players in the world so it shows how tough it is to win.
As defending champion has your preparation been different for this year’s tournament?
It’s been no different at all. Just practice. Obviously I’ve had to do more media events this year but I’m sure when I’m lying in bed on Friday I’ll feel no different. Are Elaine and the kids coming down? Yeah they are on their way down today. I’ll be driving home after the first round whatever the result because there are a few days off.
The tournament is missing Jimmy White and Paul Hunter this year. Do you think the atmosphere will be different? You can actually wear such an evening suit on your busy schedule, and this will be part of the league or pick-up game in Sports. The more you consider the process you’ve gone through a couple, several, or even a hundred times, the more you will be able to anticipate your next move because your mind will be focused and sharply tuned-in to every detail in and outside of the sale.
There will be lots of fans that will be missing Jimmy. The roar that comes up when he steps out at the Crucible is phenomenal, so I’m there will be lots that are missing him. I hear he is here working for the BBC so they’ll still see him. Obviously with Paul it’s very sad he’s not here. He was another player who was guaranteed to win it at some point. It’s sad but we’ve got to get on with it. I’m sure with his charity, his name will never be forgotten.
How accessible do you think snooker is and how popular is it?
I think people like to play socially as a laugh. Whether they can play at a professional level is another matter. I still think it’s popular, the viewing figures are high so somebody likes it somewhere.