David Grace is hoping “life begins at 30” in his snooker career after his amazing run to the quarter-finals of the Betway UK Championship.
The 30-year-old Leeds potter plays tonight in the last eight at York’s Barbican centre, and is already guaranteed £20,000 prize money.
It is easily the biggest pay day of world No 81 Grace’s career since turning professional in 2008.
In the last two seasons on the snooker circuit, Grace only pocketed £13,000 in winnings.
“If you count the last few tournaments, Shanghai Masters (where he picked up £8,000) and this one, and it probably equals my career earnings,” he said
“Which is madness, but also is good; it shows you can progress quickly because there’s that much money to be won.”
Grace said he took inspiration from journeyman Stuart Bingham, who was crowned world champion at the Crucible in May, at the ripe old age of 38. Asked the reason behind his surprise success in York, Grace – who lives with fiancee Gemma in Bradford – told The Yorkshire Post: “I wish I knew what it was, I would have done it sooner.
“Some of the players at the top of their game now are approaching 40.
“People like Stuart Bingham, they give me hope that you crack it eventually if you are persistent.
“Stuart’s always been a fantastic player, but would probably admit himself he never seemed to do it on the big stage.
“He managed to finally crack it at the Crucible, and it gives us all hope.
“This week has been mental. I came home last night, turned on my phone and had about 30 texts. I am loving every minute of it.
“I am just a snooker fan at heart; if I wasn’t in it I would be at home watching every session on TV.
“To be in the middle of it, alongside people I normally watch on TV – I can’t quite get my head around it.”
Grace was forced to return home from his York hotel yesterday, after running out of match shirts – having never got this far in a tournament previously.
“I have stayed in York since Sunday, and I was undecided on whether to stay, but I was running out of clothes. So I decided to come home for a day and get away from it.
“I took all the shirts I had owned to York, but ran out of them. I am not used to doing this well. Gemma has done me some washing,” said Grace, who has already beaten former world champion Peter Ebdon en route to the quarter-finals.
“I have just chilled out (yesterday), had a break from playing, but will have some practice (Friday) morning.
“It was strange being stuck in a hotel 40 minutes from home. I was tempted to come home before.”
Joining Grace in today’s quarter-finals is Liang Wenbo, who produced another comeback win in a 6-5 victory over Tom Ford.
A round after overcoming a 4-1 deficit to topple Judd Trump, the 28-year-old from China fought back from 5-3 down to book his place in the last eight.
On two occasions Liang slapped himself on the face in anguish at mistakes made, but his frustration gave way to delight in the decisive 11th frame when he knew victory was his and he celebrated with a roar and pump of the fist.
Playing to stay in the tournament in the 10th, Liang produced a timely 53 to seize the initiative. The quarter-finals beckoned as he amassed 49 before poor shot selection allowed Ford back in. But he missed a long pink and Liang made no mistake to clean up.
Australia’s Neil Robertson surged into the last eight with an emphatic 6-1 victory over Stephen Maguire of Scotland.
Maguire made a strong start when a break of 118 enabled him to take the opening frame, only to then lose six in a row and exit the tournament.
The world No 15 failed to score a point in the next three frames, Robertson firing 126 in the second, and he completed the rout with a break of 113 in the decisive frame.