Former world champion Shaun Murphy heads to the English Open in Barnsley this month believing becoming a father has helped bring a fresh perspective to life on tour.
The 35-year-old stunned the sporting world when – as a rookie qualifier – he was crowned Crucible champion in 2005.
But the former Masters and UK champion failed to repeat that Sheffield success, losing in Crucible finals in 2009 and 2015.
That has not stopped him having a stellar career, the world No 5 chalking up over 400 century breaks and an array of titles.
He has already come close to adding to that total this season, losing in two finals at the China Championship and Paul Hunter Classic. But Murphy insists the birth of his son, Harry, last year has made him revaluate life.
“I’ve reached the stage in my life and stage in my career where I am now able to get over defeats a lot quicker than I used to,” said Murphy.
“I think becoming a father has changed my perspective on pretty much everything and that includes snooker.”
Murphy came close to silverware, before falling at the final hurdle in two ranking finals across two continents in the space of five days in August.
He lost to Luca Brecel in Guangzhou at the China Championship, then travelled to Furth in Germany – for the Paul Hunter Classic – where he was beaten by Michael White.
“Two finals in five days is very good going and shows great consistency,” said Murphy.
“I also have to reflect on the fact I lost to two very good players who were in form.
“Luca beat Ronnie O’Sullivan on his way to the title and Michael beat Mark Selby.”
From snooker outposts in Europe and China, Murphy will be back on familiar territory when he returns to South Yorkshire this month
He lived in Rotherham when lifting the world championship in 2005 and despite relocating, still retains good support from South Yorkshire fans. The English Open has moved to Barnsley Metrodome – the inaugural tournament last year was staged in Manchester – and is being held between October 16-22.
It offers players the chance to bank a £1m bonus, if they can win all four Home Nations events.
And Murphy, while appreciating the odds are stacked against any player achieving this feat, is relishing the chance.
Murphy said: “I think the buzz would be phenomenal.
“To be the only one out of the 128 players who can go for the million pounds would be amazing, but whoever it is has an incredibly difficult task to even get close.
“If anybody were to manage it, then it would be some story.
“It would be the biggest story that we have ever had in snooker and a feat that nobody would be likely to ever repeat.
“It’s a very tough task and highly unlikely, but not impossible.”
Murphy has changed his practice routine, opting to train with players from around the country to improve his game.
“I’ve brought a bit more consistency to my game by practising more regularly with other players,” he said.
“I’ve been playing a lot recently with Matthew Selt and Ben Woollaston.
“I’ve also been over to the academies to play against some of the young Chinese players.
“I had previously been doing a lot of work, but only by myself, which isn’t the same as playing snooker against another competitor and that is what I needed.”
Five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan has confirmed his entry for Barnsley, alongside world No 1 Mark Selby, Jimmy White and Neil Robertson, with the draw announced last next week.
Tickets for the English Open are available via www.worldsnooker.com/tickets