Ali Carter believes his underdog status will give him a ‘dangerous’ edge after coming through qualification to reach the World Snooker Championships, writes Ross Lawson.
Carter was absent from the Crucible last year for the first time since 2002 but there was no danger of history repeating itself thanks to victories over Pang Junxu and Alexander Ursenbacher.
Progressing through qualifying means the two-time finalist is an unwanted draw for the top seeds, with world No.14 Jack Lisowski the unfortunate man up against him in Sheffield.
"It's not nice being the seed so I'm on a bit of a free roll, I think I could be quite dangerous in that regard.
"I've got nothing to lose and I think my game is in a good place, I'm also in a good place mentally so I'll go there and give it my best.
"I'd made 17 consecutive appearances in the competition, even when I've been ill I've been able to make it, so from that side I did miss it.
"But I wasn't ready for it last year. It was postponed, we had lockdown, and it was so hard to motivate myself to practice.
"Mentally I was a lot more up to the challenge this year.”
Carter is currently ranked 23rd in the world but is already eyeing up a return to the top 16 as soon as the autumn.
A place in the upper echelons would prevent the need to qualify again, though he admits last year’s absence from the Crucible was not as desperate as it could have been.
Last year saw the event largely played behind closed doors, though fans are expected to be in place in 2021, with the attendance growing as the Championship progresses.
"Missing out last year, in all honesty it wasn't the World Championships without the fans,” he added.
"I'm so glad they've been able to get fans in, so it can be enjoyed by everyone.
"I'm very close to where I want to be, I'm playing very well and I'm working hard on different things in my game.
"My preparation is very good and I'm being a lot more professional about it.
"I've been out running, three or four times a week, and I’m taking more care about when I’m arriving at tournaments.”
Watch the World Snooker Championship live on Eurosport and Eurosport app from April 17- May 3