JOE PERRY is under no illusions about what will be required for him to spring a huge shock and knock out tournament favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan – perfect snooker.
The 39-year-old from Cambridgeshire takes on the Rocket over the best of 25 frames starting on Thursday evening after arguably the finest season of his career.
O’Sullivan is the odds-on favourite with the bookmakers to win the Dafabet World Championship, a title that would be his sixth and third on the spin.
Perry, known as ‘The Gentleman’ on tour, is only too aware of the threat posed by O’Sullivan, who has reached the stage of the event when he can cut loose in any session to take a match away from an opponent.
But Perry has also watch plenty of others almost beaten before they start, and insists that even O’Sullivan makes errors – they just have to all be punished to make a game of it.
The winner of last summer’s Yixing Open, Perry followed that up this season with a run to the last four at the Welsh Open that included a 5-1 win over Mark Selby.
He said: “It doesn’t get any tougher, of course it doesn’t at the Crucible. But we all have to believe we can win if we play our best and cut out the errors.
“It is only a game of snooker. A tough game, but still just a game of snooker.
“Ronnie is an intimidating character out there. He is so majestic around the table and scores breaks so quickly.
“But if you want to be ultra-critical, somewhere along the line the person he is playing has the chance to play a better safety shot, or not miss a tough pot.
“It is really demanding but Ronnie misses, he doesn’t come off the table with 100 per cent pot success or 100 per cent safety success.
“You just have to take advantage of them, and punish them. If you don’t do that, you are in serious trouble,
“If you play perfect snooker, you will win, but that is what it might take. Ronnie has always had the game, now he has the head to go with it.
“You have to stay in control of your emotions and not get carried away with the occasion. If you do lose a couple of frames in quick time, that is bound to happen and don’t get rattled.
“First to 13 is a long match, and it is a case of playing every shot properly and with due concentration and seeing where that gets you.
“Once upon a time if you got in front you could maybe unsettle him and get him at it, but his days of that sort of thing seem long gone.
“I still feel pressure because I want to win, I’m not here just to make up the numbers and have had a really good season. I am not here just to let everyone cheer Ronnie on, I’ll give him a game.
“And if my best isn’t good enough, so be it. This can be the best place to play or the hardest if things aren’t going your way, but if you don’t enjoy playing Ronnie here you should give up playing.”
Photographs by Monique Limbos