Monday, 22 April 2013

The Davis days

Mark Davis completed a memorable Crucible win against John Higgins and hailed it as his best ever.

The Battler of Hastings beat the four-time world champion 10-6 making it a fine double this season against one of the sport's all time great.
Picture by Monique Limbos

Davis has now knocked Higgins out of both the UK and World Championships, meaning the greatest year of his career just keeps getting better and better.

At the ripe old age of 40 Davis is in the form of his life. He has achieved his career-best ranking event performance of the semi-finals three times and is now up to number 13 in the provisional world rankings.

This is a fairytale spell for a player supposedly in the twilight years of his career - but it all just comes down to belief.

Davis has always been able to play, but after two years under the mentorship of Terry Griffiths and having enjoyed a few good runs, he seems to be brimming with confidence.

The feelgood cycle has a habit of going on and on. The more you keep winning, the more he keep enjoying playing and the more you enjoy is, the more you keep winning. Success is infectious. He has acquired great winning mentality.

He's no longer afraid of playing someone of Higgins' ilk on the greatest snooker stage. Maybe there's a sense of belonging with the big boys these days. I dare say his victory against the Scot in York gave him the confidence to go and do it again over an even longer format and with even more at stake.

His success has been one of the real stories of the season and no one will begrudge him it. This is his reward for a career of hard work.

In contrast, Higgins has had a disappointing couple of years since last winning at the Crucible and can't seem to match the high standards he has set for himself in a career including so many highs.

He spoke about decline after this defeat. Despite being three years Davis' junior, he questioned whether he's missing balls he shouldn't be just because he's getting older.

Higgins has built a career on playing well and then in other moments managing to win matches he really shouldn't, but that tried and tested B-game appears far less accessible these days.

Coming to terms with turning up at tournaments and making up the numbers instead of fighting for the title is understandably going to be difficult for a player who was 25 ranking titles in total.

I can't imagine he's the kind of player who finds it easy to lose matches he once used to win. But I still think Higgins has more to give. He has fought back from plenty of positions throughout his career. He has a summer break coming up and then needs to dust his disappointment under the rug and come back fighting next season.

For Davis, his season is very much alive. He has a great opportunity ahead of him.

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