Graeme Dott says pre-Crucible form not yet a worry

GRAEME Dott knows the value of hitting form in time for the World Championships and the Scot is determined to head into his favourite tournament of the year in the best possible shape.

A 4-1 first-round exit to China’s Xiao Guodong at the Players Tour Championship (PTC) Finals in Galway made it six tournaments on the trot in which the 35-year-old has failed to go beyond the second round since his fine run to the semi-finals of the Masters in January.

By winning the world title in 2006, Dott proved he can save his best for next month’s season finale but, with just one more competitive outing before The Crucible, the Scot is still fine-tuning his preparations.

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“You never want to lose any match but, going into the World Championship, you want to try to win a few matches,” he said.

“You always want to get through that first round so you at least have another match to find your way. The World Championship is my favourite tournament and my best results seem to have come in it.

“If you win a couple of matches, before you know it you find yourself in a quarter-final. I won’t necessarily go into it thinking I can win it but, if it happens that way, then I know I have got a chance.”

The China Open comes before Dott’s bid to become a two-times world champion and home favourite Marco Fu is the world No 13’s first-round opponent.

“There are only two left, this one and then it is the worlds,” said Larkhall-born Dott. “It will be nice to go back to China and, hopefully, have a good run.

“It will be a good first game against Marco. We haven’t played against each other that much but he is one of the best players outside the top 16 and it is a tough draw which is what you want before the World Championship. If I can win that and get into the second round then, hopefully, I can take some form with me.”

Dott doesn’t believe world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan’s lack of competitive snooker will make any difference to his chances of retaining his title. O’Sullivan packed away his cue last November and hasn’t featured on the main tour since. Dott insists O’Sullivan is still one of the men to beat – but claims he is not bothered by the world champion’s return.

He added: “I’m not really that fussed. I think myself and the other players have more on their minds than Ronnie O’Sullivan.”

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