Former world champion Peter Ebdon is a big fan of players having to battle it out in groups at this year’s Royal London Watches Grand Prix.
The 2002 Crucible winner faced an upset on the opening day of the tournament on Saturday having slipped 3-0 down to Chinese prospect Liu Song at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre.
But the world number six raised his game to grab a 4-3 win against the left-handed qualifier – and then won his second group match 4-3 against Dubliner Joe Delaney.
Two more battling wins followed yesterday against Welshman Matthew Stevens, whom he beat 4-1, followed by a final frame victory against Stoke golden oldie Dave Harold.
“It’s a Godsend having the opportunity to play five matches,” said Ebdon.
“I’m delighted to playing matches, it’s nice to get some under my belt because playing Liu was only my second match of the season.”
The last ranking event of season – the Shanghai Masters – was two months ago and many of the sport’s elite players have missed competitive action unless they have played in the PartyBets.com Premier League.
And reigning UK champion Ebdon is no different.
The ever-ambitious 37-year-old added: “This tournament is ideal, especially for the top 16 players.
“A lot of other players have played a lot of qualifying matches to get here, so the one saving grace is that you’re guaranteed five matches.
“It was looking worse than bleak when I went 3-0 down (to Song). I couldn’t pot a ball but I’ve been working hard for this event. I started to get into it so it was great to win my first match.
“I was competitive against Joe (Delaney) as well. It’s great to have qualified for the next round, I’ve played well.”
Ebdon, who has often stated his game is suited to longer matches, mustered a high break of just 48 in his battling win over Song.
However, a cool century of 107 was not long in coming against qualifier Delaney as Ebdon extended his unbeaten run. Stevens and Harold were his next victims as Ebdon had a weekend to remember.
“I’ve been practising hard at the Rushden Snooker Centre. My mum and dad only live a few miles down the road, so I’ve been staying with them,” revealed Ebdon, who emigrated to Dubai two years ago with his wife, Debra, and their four children.
“I’ve had a few days of practice in Sheffield (at the World Snooker Academy) and I’ve been working hard for this tournament.
“It’s no secret that I think best-of-nine frame matches are too short, but I’m feeling confident and I want to do well here.”