The Spaceman looks ahead to the coming season and says he hopes he’s still playing when he’s 50…
Dale has won two ranking titles as well as the Shoot-Out
Dominic, what have you been up to this summer?
I’ve been watching a lot of tennis, in fact I went down to Eastbourne for a couple of days to watch the tournament there. I prefer women’s tennis because it’s more like snooker than men’s – it’s a game of touch and feel rather than being dominated by the serve. I enjoy going to the practice courts and marvelling at the way they hit the ball. I watched Martina Hingis for a while and she is still striking the ball like a dream at the age of 35. Agnieszka Radwańska and Belinda Bencic are among my favourites in the modern game. I noticed that Martina Navratilova tweeted about Stuart Bingham during the World Championship final – it was amazing to find out she follows snooker. Otherwise I’ve had a few weekend breaks up to Southport where my girlfriend lives and I’ve been to practise in Les Dodd’s club there.
How do you feel about the new season?
I was disappointed to lose my qualifying match for the Australian Goldfields Open, I was 3-2 up on Hossein Vafaei Ayouri but lost 5-3 in the end. I felt as if I had lost the match rather than him winning it. He does look a promising player though, he has good technique, a level head and he’s humble. From Riga onwards we are into the main body of the season so I’ll be back to practising full time. I have been in the gym doing three-mile runs, in fact I have lost a stone since Christmas. As you get older it is easy to put on weight. Last season perhaps I was guilty of falling into a comfort zone and relying on my experience to beat players. It’s not easy to do that these days because the young players learn faster by competing in a lot of tournaments against better players. I’ve had enough of mediocrity so I’m going to do things properly from now. Last season I was messing about with cues and it tends to be mental issues which lead players to do that. I’m also going to do more practice with other players at the South West Snooker Academy. In recent years I’ve mainly practised on my own.
Yes folks, he could still be doing this in seven years time
Do you feel you are as good a player as you’ve ever been?
Yes, I still believe I am capable of winning tournaments. I am fit and healthy and my eyesight is perfect. As you get older, winning and losing can mean too much and that leads to anxiety in certain situations. In the World Championship qualifiers last season I was 9-5 up on Joe Swail but lost 10-9, and there’s no excuse for that. Maybe having more practice matches will help me handle that kind of situation. It happens to everyone – Ronnie O’Sullivan has lost quite a few matches from winning positions in recent years.
How long do you see yourself playing on the tour?
I want to play until I’m 50 before I even think about retiring. Although of course you can be forced into retirement if you don’t get the results. I still have the same love of snooker, it’s a great opportunity to travel the world and a lot better than doing a 9 to 5 job where you are accountable to other people.