Honest Mark Davis thinks he’s the weakest player mentally on the World Snooker Tour, writes Will Jennings.
But the St Leonards potter hopes swapping Brighton for Belgium can bolster his resilience and catapult him towards the baize big time.
‘Battler’ Davis, the world No.45, went down 10-7 against 2005 world champion Shaun Murphy in his first round clash at the Crucible.
Davis has never won a ranking event since joining the tour in the 1990s and admits his dwindling mental fortitude has held his career back.
The candid 48-year-old, who finished runner-up at the 2018 English Open, said: “I’ve probably got the worst head in the game, to be honest – and always have done.
“I’m very, very poor mentally and always have been in the game. I’m very poor mentally and in terms of self-belief and self-confidence, but I’m better than I was.
“It’s definitely better than it was, without a doubt. I had so many years of horrendous thoughts, honestly – they were just so negative.
“I’m fine in general and pretty laid back – it was just snooker. I thought ‘I’m crap’ for years and years.
“It was hard to change that, but it has got better. I just don’t think I’ve worked hard enough on it over the years – I’m going to do more and spend a lot more time on it.
“At the end of the day, it’s so important. If you can’t do it in tournaments when it matters, then that’s all part of the mental side.
“It’s huge, and I think over the years people underestimated how important the mental side is to the game.
“It’s something that I’ll keep working on until I stop playing. I’m just trying to prolong my career – but it’s a battle all the time. It always has been and always will be.
“There’s not one mentally weak player in the top 16 – it’s a massive part of the game. And that’s why I haven’t done anything in the game – I just haven’t been mentally strong enough, it’s as simple as that.”
Davis toppled Jamie Clarke in a 10-8 thriller to qualify for just his second World Championship since 2015 but was unable to battle past world No.7 Murphy.
Davis, who has never got beyond the second round in Sheffield, struck breaks of 70, 70, 62 and 56 against his decorated opponent but two century visits from the ‘Magician’ proved too hot to handle.
The south coast star held a 4-2 lead over the nine-time ranking event winner during the first session but Murphy, 38, put his foot on the throttle on Thursday to move into the last 16.
Davis works with elite coach Chris Henry away from the table and has previously worked under the auspices of 1979 world champion Terry Griffiths.
Henry, who also coaches three-time Crucible king Mark Selby, hails from Belgium and Davis hopes a trip across the channel can be a shot in the arm to his career.
“Getting [to the Crucible] has lifted the pressure a little bit,” he added.
“Hopefully I can have a bit of time off now, get back to practice and get over to see Chris in Belgium. We haven’t been able to do it much this season, which is a bit of a shame as we do some good work out there.
“Hopefully that will be able to happen – I won’t have that long off. I want to practice hard and try and do well next season.
“To get here and play here again at this great venue [is great], but it’s disappointing. You want to carry on, keep playing and stay as long as possible. But I’ll get over it.
“I’m alright regardless of how it’s gone – we move on and look forward to next season.”
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