The Betfair Big Interview: Kyren Wilson on Mark Selby, broken cue tips, and his hopes of a Crucible breakthrough

Kyren Wilson
Practice makes perfect . . . World number nine Kyren Wilson at work
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Rising star Kyren Wilson has reached the quarter-finals at The Crucible for the last two years. Betfair went to Sheffield to discuss this year's World Championships...

"I am learning all the time and I feel very comfortable here now. Some people can get here and just not enjoy the pressure of it at all, I feel like I thrive off it and enjoy the experience."

Hi Kyren, so here we are for the highlight of the snooker year, how's your preparation been?

It's ok thanks, I had a good run in the China Open three weeks ago which was a good time to be finding some form. I got off to a slow start with Mark Selby, he led me 5-1, but I kept pegging him back and got back to eight all before he eventually pipped me 10-8, so to lose to the eventual winner by a fine margin was ok. I've come here feeling good and raring to go.

What's your practice routine like?

I think everybody is different. I prefer to play games so I have a best of 19 every day with an opponent. That's what you are going to be doing at The Crucible, after all. Then the final day it's just a bit of solo work to relax and get ready.

So how do you find opponents for that?

I'm lucky because I share a table with Peter Ebdon. He had to shoot off to the qualifiers for the last couple of days - sadly he lost in the final round - but until that point working with him was essential for me.

Hasn't he been a guiding light for you back to your childhood days?

Yes, he's looked out for me since I was about six years old when he was playing a charity exhibition and I played a pool match against him. He's always given me words of advice and tried to help me at big events where I am maybe a bit inexperienced, so to have somebody with his knowledge helping me out has been really good for my career.

Tell us about how you got into snooker?

It was mainly through my dad, he played pool and always took me up the local to play with him and that was where I learned the basics. It really kicked in after I played that game with Peter, he broke off and I cleared up off the break and he turned to my parents and told them: "He looks a natural talent, get him into snooker." Obviously he's been a big influence on me since. My mum and dad then made huge sacrifices - they moved house and remortgaged to build me a snooker room which was massive for me, they have always backed me.

Attention to detail

We're told you've fitted up your practice table now with TV lights?

Yes, I work at a club called Barratts in Northampton. They have given me my own private room which is terrific, and I've just tried to get the lighting correct to replicate what you get at the big tournaments. I think if it isn't like being on the TV it is poor preparation, attention to detail is so important.

What's so unique about The Crucible?

I think just driving into Sheffield you get a buzz about the place, it seems like the whole city knows the World Championships are on. There's no other venue like it, full of memories, full of history, full of atmosphere. I know there's always talk of the tournament moving, but I hope it always stays here.

On the subject of memories, 3-3 with John Higgins last year in the quarter-final and then the tip of your cue split. How do you look back at that one?

It was just so very disappointing. To play with a new tip is almost like saying to somebody to run a marathon going from a comfortable pair of shoes to a brand new pair. You get blisters and all sorts, that's the best way I could describe it. I couldn't play with any side and John just recognised I was struggling and ran away with it.

In the elite

The year before you lost to Mark Selby.

Yes he's sort of made this his own for a few years now and is certainly the man to beat again this time, I think he showed that winning in China.

Coming here in the top ten must help your confidence though?

Yes, I'm up to number nine, and it was a personal target for this season to try to break into the top 10, so I'm very pleased to tick that one off. You have a bit of an awe about you because you are in the elite, and you have earned that right to be there, so you have that awe compared to the qualifiers. Of course it is still important not to take that for granted and treat your opponent with some respect, but I feel like I have been consistent for a couple of years now and that's what you need.

You play Matthew Stevens in the first round.

Yes, that's tough. He's been there and done it before, and is a very natural player so it is good to see him back to some sort of form. But then it's really hard on tour for everybody, the standard is so high that every player is dangerous.

What do you need to do to take a step forward this year? Apart from not breaking a cue tip!

I don't think two quarter-finals has been bad, but I am learning all the time and I feel very comfortable here now. Some people can get here and just not enjoy the pressure of it at all, I feel like I thrive off it and enjoy the experience.

We hope you do, and we've a free £50 bet with winnings to a favourite charity to say thanks for your time.

Great the charity will be the Multiple Sclerosis Society - my dad suffers. And I'll back Chelsea to win and Eden Hazard to score in the FA Cup semi-final against Southampton.

*The Betfred World Championship begins at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield on Saturday April 21 and runs until Monday May 7 with all the action live on the BBC, Eurosport and online via Betfair Sportsbok and Exchange.

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