Gary Wilson was left ‘devastated’ after his British Open final defeat to Mark Williams, feeling he never showed his best snooker and continues to be frustrated that he struggles to produce his A game on a regular basis.
Wilson reached just his second ranking final, so it is certainly a good result for him, but he failed to feel comfortable throughout the event, including in the 6-4 defeat in the final.
The 36-year-old made four centuries over the event in Leicester but is endlessly frustrated with himself that he can’t produce his sparkling best form on a consistent basis.
‘I was just devastated at the end of the game,’ Wilson told Metro.co.uk. ‘I knew I hadn’t played my game really, I felt like I was struggling for most of it.
‘It’s probably hard for people to understand that, because they are used to seeing us play s**t. But I know how I can play, how I’ve played in the past and what I can produce, I just need to do it on a regular basis and find some consistency.
‘It was a great opportunity, Mark Williams stepped up his game, he’s a great champion, so fair play, but I was devastated.’
Snooker players at every level of the game are constantly searching for consistency and it is the dramatic fluctuations in performances that frustrate almost every professional outside of the very elite.
As such, Wilson’s feelings are nothing new, but he can at least take solace in the fact he has reached another ranking final without feeling that he was near the peak of his powers.
‘It’s something I’ve struggled with most of my career, it’s something I’ve had to battle with,’ he continued. ‘My level’s obviously good enough to do okay, it gives you confidence in some respect that I can do well with my B and C game, it’s just disappointing that I can’t produce my A game regularly.
‘I didn’t feel as though I did at all in that tournament, if I can find that I know I can win tournaments.
‘It does give you some belief that I’ve got to the final while I’ve not been feeling good at all, I just want to get into the latter stages and feel good in my game and that I can actually win it rather than just hanging on.’
It sounds like something of a glass half empty view on reaching the British Open final, but Wilson says it is a feeling born of knowing what he can produce and he finds it difficult to get enjoyment out of the game when he is not playing at his best.
‘People think I’m hard on myself but I’m a lot more philosophical than that,’ he explained. ‘I’m just being honest, I’m not just having a go at myself for the sake of it, I know what I can do and I’m not doing it so it’s frustrating.
‘Maybe I’m just too honest in interviews, but I can only say it how it is, if I think I’m playing turd, then that’s what I’ll say.’
Wilson strolled through his first three games in Leicester, winning each of them 3-0, before beating Hossein Vafaei, Dave Gilbert and his good pal Elliot Slessor to reach the final.
Stephen Hendry was one of his early vanquished foes but the seven-time world champion feels Wilson still has steps to make before he is ready to lift his first title.
Asked whether he could see the Tyneside Terror as a ranking event winner, Hendry told ITV: ‘Not at the standard he’s playing at the moment.
‘I think he’s going to have to improve. You can’t say he’s not going to, the Shoot Out is a ranking tournament. I think he’s not at that level yet to compete with the likes of Williams.’
Frustrated by his performances, Wilson can see why the Scot would hold that opinion, and while he knows himself that he is good enough to pick up some silverware, he also knows he has to prove that point.
‘I totally understand where he’s coming from and it’s understandable he’s said that,’ Wilson said of Hendry’s comments. ‘Obviously Stephen doesn’t know me as well as other people and he won’t have seen how I can play.
‘He will have seen me get to the semi-finals of the Crucible and the odd other run, but because he hasn’t seen it on a regular basis he doesn’t know what I can do, and it’s up to me to prove it to myself and to him and everybody that I can do it on a regular basis. If I haven’t shown it then I can’t expect people to think I can win tournaments.
‘If I’d played really well all tournament and just been beaten by a brilliant performance then I’d have wondered why he would say that, but I can’t really argue with him.’
Wilson is working hard to put this feeling of frustration behind him as he wants to be enjoying his snooker and not feel like he is battling himself as much as his opponent on the table.
Plenty of hours on the practice table and allowing himself to enjoy himself off the table is his plan, and he intends for that route to lead him to his first title in the near future.
‘It comes to a point where you can only keep saying it so many times,’ he said. ‘People are probably sick of hearing that and I’m a bit sick of saying it really, but hopefully I can get there and just put that behind me.
‘I want to be able to enjoy events but it’s hard to just tell yourself to enjoy something, you can’t just do it.
‘I’ve got to keep working hard in practice and try and find something. Work hard and play hard, that’s my mantra at the minute because if you’re happy off the table you’re happy on the table.
‘It’s close without feeling like I’m feeling good. If I can feel good then I know I can win a tournament and that’s the goal this season, to win a tournament.’
One huge plus for Wilson is that he has largely overcome the struggles with mental health that he was suffering with at the start of the year.
Problems surrounding building work on his house left Wilson in a depressed state as the issues dragged on for two years as he and his fiancée lived in rooms he described as ‘upside down’, while they suffered financially as well.
Thankfully that issue is in the past, as he described: ‘The house is nearly sorted, just a couple of things left to do but it’s not on my mind anymore like it was last year.
‘I was never really thinking about it during matches, I could focus then, but it was around the venue and in the hotel and just all the time I wasn’t playing.
‘Focusing during matches is not enough and it showed. That’s done now and with a good result early in the season hopefully I can relax and start to enjoy the games.
‘Decent money early in the season takes some pressure off getting into the Grand Prix and then hopefully the Players Championship and I can focus on winning a tournament.’
Wilson is back in action on 18 September in the English Open qualifiers.
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