I’ve always liked Graeme Dott. I admire anyone, in any sport, who always gives 100% and Dott’s burning desire to win has been to his great credit and the key factor in the success he has enjoyed.
Without it, he would not have been world champion. Indeed, I remember interviewing him at the Crucible in 2006 in between two of his matches. Our chat was interrupted by a fire alarm which caused the venue to be evacuated.
Out we trooped into the street outside, where he told me he believed he could win the title.
I’m not sure I believed it, even though he had been in the final just two years earlier.
It seemed to me an unlikely triumph but, of course, the entire history of sport is littered with unlikely triumphs.
Coupled with Dott’s determination was his considerable poise under pressure. It saw him through a tense deciding frame finish against Neil Robertson in the quarter-finals and his semi-final against Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Much was made of O’Sullivan’s state of mind in that match but little credit was given to Dott for applying the pressure that helped lead to the meltdown.
The tenacious Scot won all eight frames of the third session but it had been the previous afternoon’s session which proved key, in which he kept in touch at 8-8 despite all sorts of distractions, including O’Sullivan’s tip coming loose, resulting in an unexpected delay.
The final against Peter Ebdon was not a classic in terms of the quality of play but was absorbing and kept around 3m viewers gripped at gone midnight.
Even after winning the game’s ultimate prize, Dott had to endure the carping of ignorant people who decided that, no, it didn’t really count, it hadn’t really happened.
Well, check the trophy and you’ll find his name on it.
Dott also won the China Open the following season and indeed had improved considerably, quickening his pace and showing tremendous self confidence. He reached the Shanghai Masters semi-finals at the start of the 2007/08 campaign but then entered a slump.
This happens to most players at one time or another but Dott’s decline included a bout of depression that left him unwilling, almost unable, to play snooker.
He sought treatment and with trademark grit pulled himself out of the mire.
A broken wrist ruled him out of two tournaments last season and he is now out of the top 16 but Dott is just the sort worth backing to return.
He’s currently 22nd in the provisional rankings but is actually only 750 points behind Steve Davis in 13th place.
In the Shanghai Masters qualifiers, Dott trailed Jimmy Robertson 4-1 but fought back to win 5-4.
If he comes through the wildcard round he will face O’Sullivan, who he has now beaten in each of their last three ranking event meetings.
Many will doubtless say that, now he is out of the top 16, he will never return. These are the same people who said he would never be world champion.
Not for the first time, Graeme Dott may be about to prove them all wrong.