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.


Anonymous said...

Spot on. Dott is class! I for one spotted how well he was playing in round 1 in 2006 and wasn't in the least bit surprised to see him lift the title, or surprised that O'Sullivan lost it in the semi against him.

You don't win the world championships unless you're a seriously seriously good player. God knows why the slump happened but he'll be back, mark my words.

Incidentally, how ironic that this was the man who was top 16 but unrecognized by the ignorant masses earlier this decade (see BBC feature with Dott stood in a field full of cows), and here we are several years later and he's won the biggest tournament the game has to offer and he's back in the same boat!

Poor little fella. Got to love him for his self-depreciating sense of humour if nothing else.

Greg said...

This is probably a stupidly obvious question. Graeme Dott's story has got to be by far the quickest turnaround from winning the World Title, to entering the qualifying rounds, in snooker history. Right? I can't think of anything even close to it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

I thought he put up a steely display v Selby in Sheffield this last season. He is like a dog with a bone. He will never been an attractive player to watch, but a great grinder!

BTW, after he won the world championship, the following season the N.I. Trophy was made a world ranking event for the 06/07 season. Didn't they put Dott on first up on Monday morning where he lost.

Did this happen, Dave?

Thanks, Joe

Anonymous said...

with respect he won the world championship in a weak time for the championship.

in the 90s he wouldnt have got close to winning it.

but win it he did and he is a good player and hope he gets back to somewhere near his best.

Anonymous said...

Can't understand why anyone thinks 2006 was a weak time for the championship. John Higgins and Ken Doherty had both had a great season, Shaun Murphy had re-discovered his form in the run-up to the defence of his title, players like Neil Robertson and Marco Fu were on really good form, and you could hardly face a tougher opponent in the final than Peter Ebdon.

As for the point about Dott's short time between winning the championship and having to qualify for it, it certainly looks like the shortest, but not by the margin you might think.

Dott won the championship in 2006 and dropped out of the top 16 three years later. Joe Johnson was champion in 1986, and he fell out of the top 16 four years later. Even Mark Williams took only a bit longer, winning in Sheffield in 2003 but losing his top 16 place five years after that.

And finally, I agree with the view that Dott is a good bet to get back in the top 16. He's still young enough to have some good years ahead, and you can be sure he'll give it everything he's got to get back in there.

JohnH said...

I would not be surprised to see him back in the top 4 within three years

Anonymous said...

with respect by then he would be about 35 and if Higgins and Ronnie stil there at the same time this sport is going backwards to the time top players was 40.

its time for change and time young players step it right up.

Betty Logan said...

Let's not forget that had he won his first round match in 2007 he would have been virtually guaranteed to be World Number 1 as well!

However he is one of the few world champions who was never world class - Joe Johnson possible the only other from the modern era. I would have said Peter Ebdon after he won his also but he has cemented his standing with the Uk title. I think it's also fair to say he didn't beat Ronnie entirely on merit either which does tarnish the achievement slightly, but doesn't make it undeserved.

But he's a player that punches above his weight. In a game littered with underachievers Dott is one of a much rarer breed - an over-achiever and it's a pleasant reminder that there is more factors of success than just talent!