Mark Selby was today setting out on the latest leg of his mission to reclaim the world number one ranking from Judd Trump.
The Leicester potter relinquished top spot to Trump last month and consequently felt more relaxed as he began his campaign at the williamhill.com UK Championship. Selby came through against Michael White in the first round, and is set to face his second Welsh opponent of the tournament, Ryan Day, in round two at York's Barbican Centre.
With Trump the victim of a major first-round upset against Mark Joyce, Selby will be number one should he reach Sunday's final. Selby spent 14 months as number one but did not land a major title. Selby said: "I was telling myself I need to go out there and perform and make century breaks in every frame, and try to play like a world number one."
He continued: "Now I'm just going out there and enjoying it again. I didn't feel pressure from the outside, it was just the pressure I put on myself. I felt a little more under it. I knew I wasn't going to stay number one forever. Nobody does."
Selby did not foresee this week's opportunity arising and reasoned that Trump "thoroughly deserves" to have unseated him.
While Selby looks to take advantage of that situation, the 2006 world champion Graeme Dott fears his days as a trophy contender may be over. He spoke sorrowfully after a 6-2 second-round thrashing from Shaun Murphy, who looks to be a player well capable of lifting the title this weekend.
Murphy, 30, is ranked fourth in the world and had a total clearance of 130 in a victory that sets up a quarter-final against Mark King or 17-year-old Luca Brecel, who were going head to head today.
Scottish potter Dott, 35, was downbeat after tumbling out and said: "I just don't think I'm the same player I was. I don't think there's anyone else in the top 16 that can play as badly as I can play. Hopefully it's not just because of my age. I don't know if I've had it. Maybe I'm finished."
Stuart Bingham excelled in fending off a Stephen Maguire fightback to topple the Scot 6-4. Ali Carter came through 6-2 against Mark Joyce and Bingham stands in Carter's way next in an all-Essex quarter-final.
Wales' Matthew Stevens beat Marco Fu 6-4 and is aiming for his second UK Championship title. His quarter-final clash will be against the winner of the tussle between John Higgins and Mark Davis. Australia's first Crucible champion Neil Robertson also resumes his title bid after dark, taking on fellow left-hander Barry Hawkins for the right to play Selby or Day.