Robertson Outscores Highfield To Reach Last 32

New Confidence Is Saving Grace

David Grace

Grace has been on the tour since coming through Q School in 2011

If David Grace gets to the semi-finals of the Betfred World Championship this season, he could have a very difficult decision to make.

The world number 85 from Leeds is due to marry girlfriend Gemma on the last Saturday of April 2016. “She has said that if I get to the semis at the Crucible I can have an exemption!” joked Grace. “If I do qualify for the Crucible we’ll have to play it by ear – it would be a nice problem to have.”

Grace enjoyed the best win of his pro career so far on Sunday night when he beat Ali Carter 5-3 in the final qualifying round of the Shanghai Masters. He had previously knocked out Joe O’Connor, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Cao Yupeng in Barnsley as he earned a place in the final stages of the world ranking event next month.

That quartet of victories brought huge relief to a player who only won one match in ten ranking events during the 2014/15 campaign.

“Last season was a shocker for me,” admits the 30-year-old former English and European amateur champion. “I wasn’t enjoying practising or going to tournaments. I have been working harder over the past few weeks and enjoying it more – even before I went to Barnsley. It’s funny how one or two results can turn things around and give you confidence. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season now. I qualified for Shanghai two years ago and it was an amazing place to visit.

“Beating Ali Carter was definitely my best win in a ranking event so far as he’s the toughest draw in that round and he would be a top 16 player but for the health problems he’s had. I got better as the week went on, especially in beating Cao Yupeng who had been in very good form. I knew I was hitting the ball well and I was ready to have a crack at Ali. I ground out a frame to go 3-3 and then made two good breaks to win the last two frames.”

David Grace

Grace’s paintings adorn the walls of the Northern Snooker Centre

Grace finished the week with a £6,000 boost to his ranking position – and the wedding fund. “It has taken a bit of pressure off because weddings are expensive,” he said. “We’ll be inviting around 60 people. We’re not sure whether we’ll be able to have a honeymoon yet, though I am going to Benidorm on a stag do in March. Money just comes in and goes out and we can see the bills mounting up. So at least winning a few matches has put my mind at ease.”

Grace supplements his income by working at the Northern Snooker Centre, and by selling portraits of snooker players, a hobby he has kept up since studying art at A Level. “I recently sold a few paintings to Jimmy Robertson’s club in Sussex – one of Jimmy himself, one of Neil Robertson and one of Paul Hunter,” he said. “I enjoy it and it’s a way of making a bit of extra money.”