The Betfair Big Interview: Ali Carter on his journey back to the top

Ali Carter aims to get his form back in the last part of the season
Ali Carter aims to get his form back in the last part of the season

Snooker star Ali Carter has provided one of sport's most inspiring stories. A Chron's disease sufferer, he's also fought back from two spells of cancer treatment to return to the world's top 16. Betfair met him at the start of this week's German Masters to talk about his hopes for the new year...

"I think Mark Selby is the best there is at the moment. I know Ronnie has just won the Masters, but he hasn’t won the World or the UK for a few years. He looks like he’s the best but is he that consistent nowadays?"

Hi Ali, and how are you?

I'm fine, just getting ready for a bit of a scramble between now and the end of the season. I know I've had a bit of a tail-off since the early part of it, but it's hard to maintain great consistency because at the top level the sport is so competitive. But I'm in the top 16, I've had a couple of quarter-finals and won a big event earlier in the year so now hopefully I can finish well.

You were unlucky to meet Neil Robertson in such good form in the first round of the Masters.

Yes, he seems to play very well against me all the time, so it was all the more disappointing he went and played the way he did against Ronnie O'Sullivan in the next round. I thought he was a dead certainty to beat him, to be honest with you. Instead Ronnie won the tournament, but if Liang Wenbo doesn't miss the black and pots it in the first round it could be very different. It just shows you how thin the line is.

How have you reacted to the defeat?

I've had a bit of time off and chilled out. I've had some other things to deal with away from the table. I've tried to make sure I can build back up again towards the end of the season.

It can't be easy trying to make sure you hit your peaks for the bigger tournaments.

It is difficult, and I am trying to tackle things differently. Due to my health issues I've not been able to pick and choose for three seasons. After my time off I needed to play in everything to get my ranking up and get back in the top 16, but now I am going to make sure I have a break in the summer after the World Championships. I'll have a good two or three months off, so when next season starts it doesn't feel so long. It seems now it has been continuous all the way through, and I feel like now should be the end of the season and it's not because there are massive tournaments to come.

Building to the World Championships at the Crucible which is the biggest of the lot.

Exactly. I'm going to look at my schedule more carefully next season and go from there.

After all you went through it was still a huge achievement to get back to the top 16, how much higher can you go with proper preparation?

Look, I'm not bothered about the rankings. Obviously I want to be in the top 16, but then it doesn't matter if it is the top eight, the top four, whatever. I just want to win more tournaments and if you do that your ranking looks after itself. Because of the way the calendar is structured, and the ranking list is structured, if you don't play in all the tournaments it is near enough impossible. Look at Ronnie, he's ranked 13 or 14 in the world.

Yet everybody agrees he's the best player. He's automatically favourite for the German Masters this week.

Do they? I don't know about that. I think Mark Selby is at the moment, he's been number one in the world for five years. I know Ronnie has just won the Masters, but he hasn't won the World or the UK for a few years. He looks like he's the best but is he that consistent nowadays?

How is your health at the moment?

I'm fine. I've been dealing with some other stuff away from the table, property stuff. I'm renovating a couple of properties and I'm enjoying that. It gets me away, and then when I go back to the table I can be fully focused.

We talked to Wolfie Adams the darts player recently. He's had prostate cancer treatment and said it meant he didn't care any more if he won or lost. You seem the opposite, really focused to be a winner when you do play.

That's right. You can't change the way you are, can you? I'm a very competitive person and I don't like losing. That's how I've always been. I suppose sometimes I have a better attitude than others, that is the way it goes. Biorhythms it is called isn't it?

Are you conscious of being a role model because of all you've been through.

Very much so. I have been through a lot and I hope that can give a lot of people inspiration. To get through what I've got through, of course I know I have a responsibility to help people, and I do help some who are going through some of the battles that I went through. It's tough not just physically but mentally too.

When you get back from Germany it's the Grand Prix. You reached the quarter-final last year.

Yes I'm looking forward to that. It's one of the big events. I've been packing my suitcase and the last thing I want to do is get on an aeroplane to Berlin, but it's an important part of preparing for what's ahead. The Guild Hall at Preston's a great venue, and the aim is to enjoy it and play well. I'm feeling very positive for what's to come.

We hope it does go well, and we've a free £50 bet for a charity of your choice to say thanks for your time.

That's great. Chron's and Colitis is my charity - - and I'll back David Haye to beat Tony Bellew by a knockout.

*Ali Carter will be playing at the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix in Preston. For details and tickets follow this link.

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