World number one Mark Selby is chasing snooker's dream treble to be UK, Masters and World champion at the same time when the Betfair World Championship gets underway this weekend. Who better to ask about what we can expect?
"I am going there in a different frame of mind this year, knowing I came off the back of that injury and won two big tournaments, and I am going knowing I have a chance of winning it this year, where last year I was going thinking I would be happy just to get through the first round."
Hi Mark. So you are going to Sheffield as World Number One. What does that mean to you?
Ever since I picked up a snooker queue all you want to be is world number one and world champion, so to get to the top of the rankings is a huge achievement, especially with the standard of snooker as it is at the moment. A lot of people have asked me if I would swap being number one to be world champion, and the answer would be 'yes'. You only have to win that once and you are never forgotten.
Do you have to win the world championship to be the best in the world?
It's a debate in other sports. For instance Lee Westwood was world number one and hasn't one a Major.
For instance this year if Ronnie O'Sullivan didn't win the world championships, in a lot of people's eyes they would say he is still the best player in the world. The person who wins at The Crucible will be the best player in the world at that moment, but it doesn't mean they are the best across time.
Do you feel like you are the best in the world? Are you that confident in yourself?
Yeah, I always have the belief in myself. If you haven't got that it doesn't matter how good you are, you won't get the results, so I have got to go to The Crucible this year as confident as I have ever been, especially with the season I have had.
When you look back on reaching the final in 2007, how do you view it now?
I think the circumstances were different. I had only recently qualified so it was all new to me, I was going there with no expectations, I was just happy to be there. In a way there was no pressure. I was just playing and enjoying it, I won one game and won the next game, and before I knew it I was in the final and close to winning. Now because I have been a winner and have won tournaments the expectation levels are bigger, and you put more pressure on yourself because you know you are capable of achieving. It is just about the mindset. You need to find that balance where you can still approach it as though it means nothing, but really it means everything.
That's the secret then? The 2007 spirit with the knowledge you have now?
Yes, but it is not easy to do because everyone wants to try their hardest. You need to go out there and try, but if you try too hard you have the opposite effect and don't play well.
We heard you talking about your first round opponent Matthew Selt and how tough it is for anybody when it is their first time at the Crucible. Can you give some examples of what you mean?
It was difficult. I had never been, even to watch, I had gone there not knowing what to expect. Just the arena as a whole, you watch it on TV and it looks huge, but when you get there you find not much space between each table, because you have the partition down the middle, you are sitting next to your opponent which you don't normally do, and the crowd are probably as close to you as they are anywhere. Everything seems to be on top of you and it can get a bit daunting.
That's an advantage if you know what to expect.
Yes, I've been there a few years so I am not going in blind. Matthew I know has been there to watch, but there is a difference between going to watch and actually playing. Some people seem to thrive on it and he could go there and play fantastic and adapt straightaway, some go the other way. It is a tough one.
You must have bad memories of your back injury last year?
It came on when I was in China, I woke up one morning and went down to practise and couldn't' seem to get down. At the time I just thought I had pulled a muscle and it would wear off later in the day, but I found out I had a disc bulge in one of the vertebrae which was very painful. I tried to get some treatment, but I didn't have enough time.
One to scrub from the memory banks, or does it inspire you?
Yes it does, and it also puts things in perspective. I am going there in a different frame of mind this year, knowing I came off the back of that injury and won two big tournaments, and I am going knowing I have a chance of winning it this year, where last year I was going thinking I would be happy just to get through the first round. I'd have rather it not happen, but it was maybe a blessing, because my mindset and how I look into snooker now is a lot different.
Betfair's market has you and Ronnie O'Sullivan the joint favourites at 7.413/2 going in. Is he the big danger?
There are a lot of great players in there. Ronnie will always be first or second favourite for every single tournament he plays in, whether he has practised or not. He is such a great player. But it is a tough one to call. You have got Ding Junhui playing really well, Neil Robertson has been consistent this year, and Shaun Murphy has been there and done it before.
You've not mentioned Judd Trump. He was number one a short time ago, do you think he was affected by that?
I'm not sure, I just think he played so well for a long period of time the law of averages says it is hard to maintain that, with the standard the way it is. He just went through a little blip, but he is more than capable of coming out the other side and I think he's shown signs of that already. He could definitely be a big danger. I think the world championships will bring the best out of him.
Good luck and we've a free £50 bet for your favourite charity to say thanks for your time.
Great, I'm a patron of Loros. It is the hospice my father was in before he passed away when I was 16. And my bet will be my club Leicester City to win promotion at 9.08/1 - it's tough but I still think they can get in the play-offs and then anything is possible.
You can see Mark Selby's interview in full by watching the below Youtube clip: