Phil Haigh ✍️
Jack Lisowski feels his game has developed in recent months, finding a new style of play at the World Championship, and he is looking forward to show it off as the season gets busier.
Jackpot enjoyed his best run at the Crucible to date earlier this year, memorably beating Neil Robertson in the last 16, before narrowly losing out in a deciding frame to John Higgins in the quarter-finals.
It has been a slow start to this campaign for the 31-year-old, partly due to missing out on invitational events, partly due to gaps in the calendar, but also down to some early defeats.
He does not feel like he has lost the momentum he picked up in Sheffield, though, and expects the victories to come, as one did at the UK Championship on Tuesday, beating Xu Si 6-1 in the last 32.
‘I don’t feel like I lost it [the momentum], I’ve still got it, I just haven’t played many games,’ said Lisowski. ‘It’s just about finding my feet again.
‘If I can do that then I’ll get it all back pretty quickly. I’ve been working hard, practicing hard.’
That run to the last eight at the World Championship may ‘only’ have been a quarter-final for Lisowski, but he feels that the way he battled against Robertson and Higgins was part of the new game he is playing nowadays.
Working with Peter Ebdon on improving some of his weaknesses began to pay off and he intends to keep playing a slightly more canny, less reckless game.
‘It was the first time I really ended the season on a high,’ he said. ‘It’s six months ago now, it feels like so long ago, but it was a good end to the season even though I lost to Higgins, I was one frame away from being in the semis.
‘There were loads of positives I took from that tournament. Now I realise that’s how I play, that’s what works for me, so if I can get that back, it’s a winning formula for me, I’m just trying to have some more of that.
‘Obviously it was painful at the time but I got over it pretty quickly and realised my game has made big steps over that week. It wasn’t all bad.’
Obviously it was Jackpot out there with the cue in his hand, but he gives a lot of credit to Ebdon for the notable improvement in his game and the ability to take two former world champions all the way on the sport’s biggest stage.
‘Very much so,’ he said of the fine run being down to Ebdon. ‘A lot! He’s fantastic to have in your corner. I think our styles…he’s good at so many of the things I’m not. So many of my weaknesses are his strengths.
‘If he can improve me two, three, four per cent in every department that I’m weak at, that will eventually make me much more of an all-round player and much more consistent.
‘It’s just a mind-set. Train yourself to stop taking silly risks, making myself think twice.
‘Sometimes I’m thinking, “oh I’m turning this down now and I wasn’t before”, but I’m getting used to it now, that’s becoming an established part of my game, I’m chipping away at it a little bit at a time to round my game off.
‘I’m not the quickest learner, it’s still a bit of a slow process, but it’s coming. He’s brilliant, I love it.’
It has been a frustrating time since the World Championship as Lisowski feels ready to kick on but has not quite felt able to do so yet, not playing many matches since the Crucible.
But with the current UK Championship followed by the German Masters qualifiers, Scottish Open and English Open all before Christmas, he is ready to get stuck in and show what his new, wiser game can do.
‘There haven’t really been many tournaments since the Worlds, this feels like the first big one. So it’s all about settling down, I feel like I haven’t played for ages. It feels nice to be off and running,’ he said.
‘I had a little break over summer, but nothing crazy and was back practicing hard. But there was one tournament and then a massive break, but the calendar looks quite busy now so I’ll be playing the whole time and I can reap the rewards of the hard work. I’m good to go.’
Lisowski made pretty light work of Xu in his opening contest, but will have it tougher in the last 16 when he meets either Hossein Vafaei or four-time world champion Mark Selby.
‘I know they’re both very talented, but also very sharp, I’ll have to play very well to beat either of them,’ he said. ‘Bring it on!’
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