Ryan Day has quietly started to recover his world ranking and is 22nd on the latest list.
He was once as high as sixth but endured a poor run of form which left him fighting to stay in the top 32.
Who knows why form deteriorates? Sometimes there are off table reasons, usually unknown to followers of the sport. Other times it’s just that confidence gets dented by the odd close defeat and is hard to recover, even with so many playing opportunities.
Day is a very heavy scorer when he gets going. He is certainly good enough to have won a ranking event without having quite done it. He has three defeats in finals so far.
The Welshman was a member of the original WPBSA young players of distinction scheme in 2000, which also included Shaun Murphy, Stephen Maguire and Ali Carter. It also featured a couple of players who were less successful.
In fact, Day had already served notice of his potential by recovering from 4-0 down to beat Steve Davis 5-4 in the Welsh Open at Cardiff.
I vaguely recall someone excitedly coming into the press room and declaring that Day would ‘definitely be a world champion.’
I’ve heard this said about so many players that the World Championship would have to be played most weeks to make it possible.
It’s the worst thing for a player to hear, particularly at a young age: it’s the easiest thing for anyone to say but they don’t have to play the shots, endure the pressure or cope with the burden of expectation.
Ryan has had a very good career but a big title is missing. The good news is that there is still time.
He beat Ding 10-9 from 9-6 down at the Crucible last season, although his quarter-final against Matthew Stevens saw him lose all eight frames of the middle session. I was later told he had had a migraine before this session.
Today he plays Neil Robertson in the International Championship in Chengdu. This match is a good barometer of where Day is. If he can win or at least push Robertson close with a strong performance it will bring back more confidence. A heavy defeat would be a setback.
He’s only 32 but there’s always a danger when a player drops out of the top 16 that they aren’t quite going to get back.
Matches like today’s against Robertson can make all the difference.