McManus itching for new season after Crucible defeat

A REINVIGORATED Alan McManus admits that he is already itching to get back into action, despite seeing his Crucible dreams ended at the first hurdle yesterday.
Despite his minifightback, Alan McManus was unable to reel in Ding Junhui yesterday. Picture: GettyDespite his minifightback, Alan McManus was unable to reel in Ding Junhui yesterday. Picture: Getty
Despite his minifightback, Alan McManus was unable to reel in Ding Junhui yesterday. Picture: Getty

Gone are the days when the players would take a prolonged break after the world championships to recover for the new season. Now it is less than three weeks before the new campaign begins in earnest.

And 42-year-old McManus, who rolled back the years in qualifying for the main draw for the first time since 2006, knows he does not have time to lick his wounds after he was dumped out 10-5 by Chinese sensation Ding Junhui.

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“The new system has been a fresh start to their career for a lot of people. Instead of six or seven we now have 20 tournaments a year,” he said.

“You are active all the time with no time off. That is good and bad but, on the snooker side, to have a full calendar and compete against the best week in week out is fantastic.

“I’m already looking forward to next season.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed it, it is always nice to play here and the arena does not change out there, which is a good thing.

“There is a lot of pressure out there and it’s a big occasion no matter who you play and I would love to be back again next year. Long may the Championships continue in Sheffield.

“Giving someone like Ding a five-frame lead is always going to be tough. My only hope was to try to take him deep into the match and try and put some heat on him.

“I felt pretty good out there and there was a lot of good stuff in patches, but I just couldn’t close the gap to 7-6 which would have given me a chance.”

Against Ding, McManus showed glimpses of the form that carried him to the Masters title in 1994 and two successive Crucible semis in 1992 and 1993.

Trailing 7-2 on the resumption on Wednesday, he reeled off three frames in a row to close to 7-5 before Ding recovered to seal victory.

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Judd Trump made a winning start to his campaign by seeing off Dominic Dale 10-5 in the first round yesterday and then dismissed suggestions there is a wide open field at the World Championship this year. Trump insists no more than three players can rival him for the title.

There has been a tendency for Trump’s fellow cuemen at the Crucible to suggest most of the players left in the tournament can still win it. But Trump does not buy that and, after finishing Dale off yesterday morning, he stressed the pool of realistic contenders remains very small.

“I know a lot of people are saying that anyone can win it but in my opinion there’s only three or four who can,” Trump said. “If that certain amount of players play well then one of them is going to win it.”

Assuming Trump believes he can win the trophy, then the players he is looking at as serious competition might comprise Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan. But Trump, perhaps wisely, refused to give names.

Last night world number one Selby, who is bidding to become just the fourth player to win snooker’s “triple crown” of UK Championship, Masters and World Championship in the same season, completed a 10-4 victory over Crucible first-timer Matthew Selt. He faces Barry Hawkins in the second round.

Sam Baird, the lowest-ranked player to qualify for this year’s event at 83 in the world, trails Stuart Bingham 8-1 after the opening session.