Mark Allen believes he can become even better than world No 1 Judd Trump as he targets revenge in the williamhill.com UK Championship in York this week.
Trump and Allen are long-term adversaries, having graduated through the youth ranks on the snooker circuit.
But while success has come swiftly for 23-year-old Trump, the current world No 1 and UK champion, Northern Irishman Allen has had to graft his way up the world rankings.
Allen may be ‘just’ world No 8 but Trump believes he will be one of his main challengers over the next few years.
“Judd’s a player that I have played a lot of junior snooker with and is a player who I think I am more than equal to. I think I can be better than him, so if he is No 1 that gives me something to aspire to,” said Allen.
“He is a very deserving world No 1 though, he has been unbelievably consistent these last 18 months. He made that massive breakthrough winning in China and has been a different player ever since.
“He could be, if someone doesn’t catch him quick, the world No 1 for a long time.”
On Trump’s assertion that Allen will be his main rival in years to come with Ronnie O’Sullivan off the scene and players like John Higgins and Mark Williams reaching the latter stages of their careers, the Irish pottter accepts he still faces many hurdles before he can seriously challenge.
“He’s No 1 and I am No 8, so there’s still six players in between us. It’s a compliment to me and where my game is at the minute, for Judd to be saying those sort of things.
“It’s up to me to go out there and make that come true, it’s something that could happen.
“It’s a massive compliment coming from the world No 1, but regardless of what people say I have to go out there and prove them right.
“I have to keep working hard at the practice table, like I have been doing, and my form has been getting much better. I do think I can be one of the top players for a long time to come, because there’s a little bit of a void now Ronnie O’Sullivan is not there and it’s going to take a few players to step up and carry the game on their shoulders. I would love to be one of those people,” added Allen, who opens at York tomorrow against Marco Fu.
It was Trump who denied Allen in the final at York last season, winning 10-8, a scoreline the Irishman is keen to forget.
“I have good memories of York because I played well, but a runners-up isn’t what I am looking for,” he said. “I am here to try and win the event, so I look back at last year as still being disappointing as I didn’t win.
“I can understand why people would say I did well, played well, but I always come back to did I win the tournament or not and the fact of the matter is I didn’t.
“I still have great memories of the final, a good comeback, and lots of centuries in the final. I take those positives into it, but the outcome of the whole tournament was something I will try and forget about.”
Allen – in York on Wednesday before flying back to Ireland for a family wedding yesterday – is due back in the city today with coach Terry Griffiths, the man who he credits with helping his game improve this season as he won the Antwerp Open.
“Only a few weeks after he started working with me I won the tournament in Belgium. Since then my form has been pretty good, consistent, so if i can continue that I think I really have a good chance in York.”