JIMMY ROBERTSON heads to the Crucible on Saturday determined to make amends for his nightmare debut appearance on snooker’s most famous stage.
Robertson was thrashed 10-1 by Mark Selby at the 2011 Betfred World Championship as, like so many before him, he felt the unique pressure at the game’s most unforgiving venue.
But four years on, the Sussex potter is more hopeful as he prepares to play Marco Fu in the opening session on Saturday morning.
“Hopefully I can perform a bit better this time,” Robertson said. “Last time I was nervy and didn’t settle down. I think this time I’ll be able to relax a bit more.
“I’m older now. I’ve been on the tour for quite a few years so have a bit more experience. I’ll hopefully just play my game and not come across as being under pressure.
“Last time I had a lot of people who came up to support me and it was putting pressure on me because every time I was getting chances they were all shouting out, trying to get me going, but sometimes it can make things worse for you.”
It may suit Robertson to play first on table 2. All the focus and attention will be next door on table 1 where Selby – Crucible Curse and all – will be facing Kurt Maflin.
Meanwhile, Robertson can go about his business against Marco Fu without quite the same scrutiny, notwithstanding that this is still the World Championship, still the Crucible and there is pressure on everyone.
Robertson was among the skin-of-your-teeth qualifiers, winning a decider against China’s highly rated Xiao Guodong on Wednesday night.
He drove home on Wednesday to see his 17 month-old son, Frankie, before heading back to Sheffield on Friday to take on Fu in the sport’s most iconic venue.
“The Crucible is like nowhere else I’ve ever played and I couldn’t wait to get back there,” Robertson said.
“It can be a daunting place sometimes and it depends on whether you can hold your nerve. If you can then you can give anyone a game.”
Robertson and another qualifier, Mark Davis, both play at O’Sullivan’s, the snooker club in Hastings owned by Robertson. But he has given up late night shifts behind the bar to focus on his playing career.
Robertson said: “Now I have a kid, I didn’t want all the late nights, because we’re away enough playing so I don’t want to be working as well. I’m in five or six days a week practising and spend as much time as I can with Frankie.”
Photographs by Monique Limbos.