I can still win big snooker tournaments, says Mark Allen
Antrim's Mark Allen is still convinced he can become the total snooker package after starting his quest for the Dafabet English Open title in style.
Allen's break-building ability has never been in question, the major issue for the 31 year-old has always been surrounding his safety play.
But with his percentages slowly but surely increasing on that front over the past 18 months, the World No.10 is content he's moving in the right direction.
He didn't need to demonstrate those new-found skills in Barnsley yesterday as he blitzed six-time World Championship finalist Jimmy White 4-0 - making breaks of 73, 72 and 80 en route to booking his place in round two.
"I've been scoring really well lately, so to make two 70s and an 80 is pretty good - that's 3-0 up against anyone," said Allen. "There are plenty of positives, so I just need to keep it going.
"I played a few loose safety shots, as I always do, so there's still plenty to work on, but my game is based around scoring.
"As long as I'm scoring I'll win a lot of matches. To win tournaments and to win big events you need the whole package, and I'm not quite there yet.
"I can still get there because I'm not miles away in the longer matches. My safety percentages have definitely gone up over the last 18 months.
"I know that because I'm a bit of a snooker geek. I keep track of those things and practise hard on those areas.
"I've still got a bit to go to really compete with the very best on a regular basis but, on my day, I've showed I can beat the top players."
Allen wasn't the only Northern Irish success story on day one at the Metrodome Leisure Complex as veteran Joe Swail battled into round two with a 4-3 win over Chris Totten.
The 48-year-old came from 3-2 down against a man 30 years his junior to record just a fourth victory this season.
Swail was in a typically jovial mood after his triumph and explained his main goal is enjoying the final years of being a professional snooker player.
So did he enjoy grinding his way past Totten?
"No, certainly not!" he laughed. "I was thinking about getting a flight home but then I realised I might not even get back to Ireland because there's a storm raging over there. So I thought 'I might as well win then!'
"These deciders aren't good for the old ticker though! I'm the wrong side of 40 now."
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