Andy Hicks is confident of doing well at the Welsh Open. His opponent on Monday, Matthew Stevens, will be on home ground but this is not always a plus.

Indeed, Hicks knows all about that. When the British Open was played in Plymouth, just down the road from his home town, Tavistock, he was the local favourite and at times found the weight of expectation difficult to deal with.

It’s easy to see why. Although the local boy will enjoy plenty of support, he also knows how disappointing defeat would be for those supporters, which very often include family and friends.

Stephen Maguire had his grandfather, Paddy, sat in the audience for his match against Jamie Cope at the Royal London Watches Grand Prix in Glasgow last October.

Paddy had knocked down a wall between rooms at his house to install a snooker table on which a young Stephen could practise after school.

Obviously, Maguire wanted to do well for him but lost 5-1 to Cope, perhaps because he was trying too hard.

Jimmy White has had to deal with being the man everyone – or almost everyone – wants to win for the last 25 years or so.

When he was playing well this was an advantage. With the crowd behind him, Jimmy rode the tidal wave of support to victory but, when he was struggling, it exacerbated his difficulties because the disappointment around the arena when he made a mistake was palpable.

I think Ding Junhui may be struggling for this reason. After all, he has the expectations of the biggest country in the world on his young shoulders.

He’s a big name in China and, having made such an impressive start to his career by winning three ranking titles while still a teenager (John Higgins is the only other player to have accomplished this feat), millions of people back home expect him to carry on in the same vein.

Of course, all players want the crowd on their side. The support of fans can help lift their performances.

But the knowledge that you might leave loved ones disappointed can also create an anxiety that results in a below par performance.

Maybe this is why there has only been a Welsh winner (Mark Williams) on two occasions in the 17 times it has previously been staged.


Anonymous said...

Matthew has never performed well in the Welsh Open- maybe things will be different this year. Let's hope we have some snooker of the same quality we have just enjoyed in the championship League.

DanielH said...

I guess White's family was always watching the big finals ;P

Anonymous said...

Hope to see Mark Williams win again.

Anonymous said...

If you see Hicks at an exhibition, you'll know what I am talking about, then he can win the tournament with that performance.

Anonymous said...

doesn't this slightly contradict your betfair article!?
however, I agree - ryan day has an excellent chance to break his duck here

Dave H said...

It's called covering all bases

Anonymous said...

covering all bases indeed, yeah right :p ;)