Peter Ebdon is now into his 27th season on the World Snooker Tour and as he prepares to travel to Guangzhou for the Evergrande China Championship his trademark determination is as apparent as ever.
(The China Championship kicks off on Wednesday. For the full schedule click here.)
The 2002 World Champion heads to China off the back of two qualifying wins in Preston this week and he ended last season by making his 24th Crucible appearance. We caught up with the Force to see how he feels ahead of his China Championship clash with Anthony Hamilton…
Peter, the China Championship made an instant impact on the World Snooker Tour calendar last season. With it now being a full ranking event how much are you looking forward to heading out to Guangzhou?
“It makes me proud each time I go out to China. I’m representing myself and I’m representing World Snooker, especially overseas as a former World Champion. I wear my heart on my sleeve and give 100% every time. It would make me even more proud to be a winner again. Maybe I’m kidding myself, but I hope I still have some tournament victories in me.
“I feel as if I’m hitting the ball really well. I’m playing Anthony Hamilton in China next Wednesday. It’s going to be a tough match. He won his first tournament last year and he is playing well. He’s been a top class player for a long long time. He scores heavily and his safety is good. I’m going to have to play well to win. He will be a strong favourite.”
Do the achievements of Anthony Hamilton and Mark King last season, winning maiden ranking titles into their 40s, give you inspiration to keep fighting to add further silverware to your CV?
“I still feel capable of doing it. My form in the last few seasons has been very up and down. I don’t think I’ve been getting the results I deserve, despite working hard. I’ve put in a lot of effort on my fitness and swim half a mile every day, which gives me a reasonable level. I’ve had a lot of back and shoulder problems to contend with and that threatened to stop me doing the swimming. However, it is a question of going through the pain barrier a bit to get fit again. I’m doing all the right things with my vegan diet and it would be good if I could get a bit of a run going at a few events to see the rewards. The idea is to give myself another two seasons and then I can re-assess the situation with my career. I’m just going to try to work as hard as I can It would be nice to win again and perhaps one day bow out with a win.”
In terms of your preparations on the table, you spend a lot of time practising with Kyren Wilson. How much of a help is it playing with him to get match sharp and how far do you think he can go in the game?
“I’m working really hard and I have a great opportunity to work with a top class player who I have known for a long time. I practise with Kyren Wilson most days and I consider him to be one of the best in the world. He’s a potential world number one and world champion. He’s got an incredible amount of ability and what I get to see day in day out is very special. Although he has won the Shanghai Masters in 2015, he’s only just scratched the surface with what he is capable of doing. I would love to see him go all the way and become world number one. I couldn’t pay him a better compliment than saying he is one of the best I have ever played.”
You ended last season by once again qualifying for the Crucible. It was your 24th appearance at the final stages of the World Championship. How proud are you of your record in Sheffield?
“It was lovely to qualify for the Crucible again. It didn’t go quite as I would have liked against Stuart Bingham. I really enjoyed being there again this year. It is getting more and more difficult every year. .To have been part of the World Championship almost every year of my career apart from a couple makes me very proud. My whole season will be geared around getting myself absolutely spot on when April comes around. Everything will be geared towards that.”