Martin Gould*

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Q&A

www.worldsnooker.com

London's 27-year-old Gould reflects on a cracking season and looks ahead with optimism.

How would you sum up last season?

Definitely the best of my career so far.

What were the highlights?

The biggest one was beating Stephen Hendry 5-3 at the Welsh Open. It felt amazing because he was the player I most admired when I first got into snooker. I also liked Jimmy White for his flamboyance, but Hendry had that determination to win and I have always followed winners in sport. Not far behind that feeling was beating Matthew Stevens to qualify for the Crucible. It's everyone's dream to play there.

Did you enjoy your debut at Sheffield, despite losing 10-6 to Mark Allen?

I enjoyed it and I learned a lot. On the first day I went 7-2 down and I wasn't proud of myself. Things started going wrong and I felt more and more trapped, like I was being eaten alive. I've never played in a venue like the Crucible before, it's so compact. At the end of the session I couldn't get out of the arena quickly enough. But on the second day I came back into the match and I was pleased to show that I can play under those circumstances. I can't wait to get back there.

Was there a low point during the season?

I lost 5-1 to Andy Lee in the Shanghai qualifiers early in the season, and that was the kick up the backside that I needed. It was a turning point because it forced me to buck my ideas up. I worked with my coach Del Hill and practised hard. I decided to play in the Masters qualifiers and got a couple of wins there which gave me some confidence. From that point the season was only going one way.

You've been around for a few years but only now are you realising your potential, why is that?

I was disappointed with how I had done in my career before last season. I was losing to a lot of players who I should have been beating. I tended to struggle against those kind of players, while I'd fly off my nut against the better players. It comes down to respecting everyone the same and taking nothing for granted. I play the game properly now and I've stopped going for ridiculous pots against players I expect to beat. That has made me a lot more consistent.

What are your targets for next season?

The main one is to get into the top 32. I also want to qualify for more venues, especially the Crucible.

Are you doing anything different?

I've had a new cue, an Acuerate, for about a week, but I haven't tried it on a match table yet so I haven't decided whether to stick with it or go back to my old one.

What have you been up to this summer?

I went to play in a tournament in India, near Mumbai. There were quite a few decent players in it, like Aditya Mehta, Manan Chandra, Yasin Merchant and Anda Zhang. I beat Mehta 7-3 in the final. It was great to play in a different environment. I was playing snooker most of the time, although I got to see a fair bit of the area.

It's well known that you work part-time as a casino croupier, but do you have any other pastimes away from snooker.

I play a bit of golf - I used to play off 12 but now my handicap is more like 24.

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