What a day for Mark Joyce, who after slogging through four qualifying rounds and winning two matches in Telford will be appearing in the quarter-finals of the 12bet.com UK Championship against Mark Williams.
Joyce has enjoyed the best week of his career, proof again that many of the so-called ‘journeymen’ are capable of producing the goods.
Ali Carter did not play well against him but Joyce was strong in dispatching Judd Trump and is now guaranteed £16,450 – by far his biggest ever single cheque. Not bad for someone who earned around £21,000 during the whole of last season.
Part of Joyce’s success comes from his ability to think clearly. He has been consulting a sports psychologist to talk through some of the feelings and anxieties he has while playing.
Snooker is a game played over long periods and while it’s relatively easy to go into a match feeling positive, things can very quickly go wrong and players often beat themselves when dejection sets in.
Joyce always was a clever chap. He went to a grammar school in his native Walsall. I attended a comprehensive just down the road from it, which is probably why I’m writing a snooker blog at 8.30 in the morning.
We used to hate their school but I wish Mark all the best today. I hope he enjoys the experience and, if Williams plays anything like he did against Stephen Hendry, he has every chance of progressing even further.
The other quarter-final has the potential to be a great match, pitting as it does world champion Neil Robertson against Shaun Murphy, the 2008 UK champion.
Murphy came through 9-8 on the pink against Ryan Day after a typically poised clearance in the deciding frame.
Robertson has played superbly so far but hasn’t been pushed yet. That should change today.