Mark Allen into next round of English Open as he targets strong finish to 2019
Having hit the practice table hard, 2018 Masters Champion Mark Allen believes he is just one big performance away from mounting a real charge ahead of the hectic winter period.
The 33-year-old announced his arrival at the 19.com English Open with a 4-2 win over Thailand’s former world number three James Wattana, as he looks to follow up two semi-final appearances so far this season by securing success in Crawley.
Allen explained how he has been putting the work in behind the scenes and having seen glimpses of what he is capable of, is confident he is within touching distance of recapturing his best form with the sport’s biggest stages on the horizon.
“I’ve been practicing really hard and my season has been steady, rather than spectacular so far,” he said.
“But I don’t just want to be steady, I want to win tournaments. I’ve got to the last four a couple of times so the signs are good.
“And I think one performance, or one result, can make the difference. I’ve been losing matches I look like I should be losing, so if I can win one from an unfavourable position here at the English Open then maybe that could be the turning point.”
Allen’s opening round win suggested fortune could in fact be on his side in West Sussex, after he fluked a blue in what turned out to be the game’s last frame.
In truth, while Wattana did well to keep the game level at 2-2, the world number seven eventually showed his class with breaks of 125 and 87 in the last two frames.
And while appearing to be in convincing form, Allen insisted he is looking to continue his 19.com English Open journey in his second-round tie against Hong Kong’s Andy Lee.
He said: “The first few frames were a bit scrappy, but once the balls opened up - as you saw in the last couple - I looked dangerous and I was confident I was going to score.
“James is a good player and he knows what he’s doing around the table, so it’s a pleasing win.
“With all the hard graft that I’ve put in, I’m focused on keeping my head down and I’m ready to keep going in the tournament now.”
Elsewhere, there was disappointment for County Antrim’s Jordan Brown who fell at the tournament’s first hurdle at the hands of young Englishman Louis Heathcote 4-1.
Watch the English Open live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with studio analysis from Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White
Belfast Telegraph Digital