It’s been a rollercoaster summer so far for Michael Georgiou. He dropped off the World Snooker Tour at the end of last season, before hitting straight back, reclaiming his card at Q School event 2.
The 28-year-old then got his season off to a flying start by securing trips to Riga and Hyderabad at the recent qualifiers in Preston. He couldn’t wait to get on the plane to Latvia when we caught up with him…
Michael, how pleased are you to have qualified for the Kaspersky Riga Masters and Indian Open?
“I’ve really hit the ground running by beating Fergal O’Brien and Wang Yuchen. The reason I play snooker is to be able to travel to exciting places doing the sport that I love. I have fantastic memories of India, as I won the World Under-21 Championship there back in 2007. They have a huge fan base for snooker.”
You couldn’t have been handed a tougher start after drawing Neil Robertson in Riga and having your match against Ding Junhui at the World Open held over. Do you approach matches against the big names differently?
“Playing Ding in China will be very special. I don’t think it can get much bigger than that. The hype around him will be as high as it’s been thanks to his run to the world final. It will certainly be the biggest audience I have played in front of. That’s something I’m going to relish.
“Facing Neil in Riga will be another big challenge. I think the goal for every player is eventually to become one of these big names yourself. Although I would obviously rather not play them in round one, it’s still the pinnacle of the game to face them.”
There wasn’t long to recover after losing your tour card – how did you manage to turn your form around so quickly at Q School?
“I felt really bad after the World Championship. It was just a case of practising hard and trying to play through the way I was feeling. It didn’t look good after losing my first match in event one. Thankfully I managed to get myself together in event two. It seemed to get easier as I went through the rounds.
“Having a two-year tour card is really good for me. It takes the pressure off. My second year as a pro tour player was really difficult and there was always that niggling fear at the back of my mind. The fear factor has gone now. I will be approaching this season with a completely different attitude.”
You found it difficult to break through after your World under-21 win in 2007. Do you think the tour is now a better place for new players coming through?
“When I turned professional it was nearly impossible to survive on the tour. Now things have completely changed. There were seven or eight tournaments a year and now there are 30. It’s given players like myself a great opportunity. Without Barry Hearn I don’t think I would be playing today. I don’t know whether snooker will get back to the popularity of the 80s in Britain. But globally the game has never been more popular. It is a brilliant time to be on the tour.”
You’re looking into the possibility of changing your nationality to represent Cyprus. Why have you decided to do this now?
“All of my grandparents are from Cyprus and I really want to promote the sport out there. Football dominates the interests of most people. But when someone achieves something big the whole country really gets involved. There was a huge spike in interest for tennis when Marcos Baghdatis reached the final of the Australian Open in 2006. I would love to be able to do something similar for snooker.”