Leeds snooker star Sanderson Lam heads to York in confident mood

SANDERSON Lam insists he is feeling more and more confident with every game he plays despite slipping out of the Coral Northern Ireland Open at the last-32 stage.

Sanderson Lam.

The Leeds cueman was on the unfortunate end of an impressive display from Hossein Vafaei Ayouri, losing 4-1 to miss out in Belfast’s Titanic Exhibition Centre on Thursday.

Both players struggled to find their feet early on, Vafaei taking an opening, scrappy frame which saw each player take to the table on multiple occasions.

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But the fight seemed to spur on the Iranian who found consistency around the balls in breaks of 61 and 119 to move comfortably into a 3-0 advantage over world No.93 Lam.

A long red proved the catalyst for Lam to regain his touch, making 55 in one visit, though another chance in the fifth frame went begging as Vafaei secured the victory.

“We both started off quite edgy, neither of us did well and couldn’t really take any of the chances we had,” said Lam.

“I don’t know what happened, I just wasn’t feeling completely there and I wasn’t able to build breaks.

“He played well, scored nicely and that but a pit of pressure on, but once I got that frame on the board I felt quite relaxed.

“It’s different every day, you’re capable of playing badly one day after doing well and that’s sometimes what happens, but I still feel my game is heading in the right direction.”

Defeat in the last-32 curtailed what had been a positive week for Lam, already securing two victories earlier in the competition.

Success over Wang Yuchen was bettered still by a 4-0 second-round victory over Alan McManus, a game full of exemplary break-building in the form of four half-centuries.

And Lam believes it’s results like those that can help define tournaments, giving him a much-needed boost ahead of next week’s UK Championships.

“I like to think it’s all coming together, my form on the practice table has been good and it seems to have been transferred to the match arena,” he added.

“I’m heading to York with confidence, there’s no doubt about that and it’s important to get that right next week.

“My time in Belfast has been really enjoyable, it was my first time here and it’s gone really well on and off the table.”

Watch the Northern Ireland Open LIVE on Eurosport 1 and Quest, featuring daily studio analysis from Ronnie O’Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.