Gould sets sights on Crucible return

Martin Gould says his recent good form means he heads to Sheffield for this week’s World Championship qualifiers full of confidence.

The world number 24 has beaten some of the game’s biggest names in his last two tournaments, including reigning world champion Mark Selby and former world champions Shaun Murphy and Peter Ebdon.

Gould also managed wins over up-and coming Welsh talent Michael White and two-time World Championship semi-finalist Alan McManus during the World Open in Wales and the Players Championship in Thailand.

But on both occasions his run was ended in the later stages by world number six Judd Trump.

Gould told West London Sport: “I know I lost to the same guy twice in quick succession but I didn’t do a lot wrong and I have been playing some good stuff.

“I had a bit of bad luck and Judd just played really well; it can happen. He got the run of the balls when he needed it and took advantage.

“If I had bottled it I would admit it, but I didn’t have a chance to go at it. If I had got that chance I would have really fancied finishing him off.

“Although I was 5-1 up against Judd in the World Grand Prix, I didn’t really get a look in and nearly every time I came to the table I was in all sorts of trouble.

“But I still had a really good week and have been playing well.

“I had never beaten Michael White before and beat him and also got one over on Shaun Murphy as well as the world champion and world number one [Selby] so I have had some excellent wins. You have to take confidence from that.”

The new-look qualifiers, which start on Wednesday, mean all those outside the 16 automatic Crucible qualifiers have to enter a flat draw where they need three wins to progress to snooker’s showpiece event later this month.

Gould, who has been drawn to face Adam Duffy in his first-round match, would play either Tony Drago or Sam Baird in the second round.

Should the 33-year-old negotiate the first two rounds, Jamie Jones would seem to be his most likely opponent in the final qualifying round.

The World Championship begins at the Crucible on Saturday 19 April, with the qualifiers taking place at Sheffield’s Pond’s Forge from Wednesday 8 April to Thursday 16 April.

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