Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Ryan seizes the Day

Ryan Day is back in the best of company after winning the Championship League Group five yesterday.

The Welshman - who is enjoying a spell of resurgence at the moment - put in an A-star display to beat Mark Allen 3-0 in the final.

Now, he joins Mark Selby, Mark Williams, Shaun Murphy and Ali Carter in the final group, with a place in next season's Premier League at stake.

To think Day would be among such a star-studded list as this just a few months ago, would almost have been almost unthinkable.

He won just two matches in the opening eleven ranking events this season, which saw him drop out of the top 16.

But from somewhere, he seems to have rekindled his hunger to play snooker.

Since qualifying for the Welsh Open last month, he's been like a new man, break building to the level which once saw him as high as world ranked number two provisionally.

While a lot was made of his demise, it isn't unusual for a professional snooker player to endure a spell of struggle. Compared with other sports, the career of a snooker player is lengthy. It is difficult for any player, no matter how talented, to sustain peak performance throughout this. Just ask his fellow Welshman Mark Williams.

But one thing that never changes, is ability. We've all seen Ryan has an abundance of this, but now he's found his focus, which allows it to shine again.

Victory in this Championship League group is by no means proof that Day is back to his best, but it's a sure good sign he's getting there.

It's great proof of what's possible for all players if they're prepared to seize their opportunities too. Ryan only ended up playing in the group after Marco Fu withdrew. He was originally scheduled to join in group seven.

But he took his chance with both hands, emerging as winner of a group containing the likes of Allen, Liang Wenbo, Matthew Stevens, Ding Junhui, Mark King and Ricky Walden. Even over a best-of-five-frame format, this is no mean feat.

Day can take confidence from his success, even if he didn't produce his very best snooker until facing Northern Ireland's Allen in the final.

He said: "I've not played very well at all over the last two days and was a bit lucky to still be in it at the knockout stages but the final was the best match I played.

"I'm just trying to get as many matches played as possible and trying to get some self-belief and confidence back.

"It has been very frustrating as I've been losing a lot of matches to players that I would never have dreamed of losing against a couple of seasons ago."

Group Six kicks off today. Finalist Allen, along with beaten semi-finalists Wenbo, King and fifth- placed Stevens retain their spots, while Judd Trump, Stephen Lee and Mark Davis join.

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