Stephen Lee takes time out from buying his twin boys birthday presents to reflect on last season and to making a fresh start.
How would you sum up last season?
I was under pressure going into qualifying, every match I had was tough. I bumped into Judd Trump a couple of times, which is probably the toughest match I could have in that round, and Tom Ford who was flying as well. I came up against Jamie Burnett who had come off the back of some good results. Apart from that, I played well in the UK to get some points on the board.
What were the highs and lows?
I had a little run at the UK (to the quarter-finals) over the longer distance. Winning a match to go to China and winning a match to go to Sheffield isn't anything to shout about really. I don't want to be around just winning a match in every event. I caught a few good lads, I played Judd in the Grand Prix and he went on and had a nice run - I've done that a few times. I was 5-0 up against Mark Selby a couple of years ago at the World and he's turned into some player. I don't think he would have come on so quickly if I hadn't given him that chance. I've been making some mistakes and had a bumpy ride. You've got to get your off-table stuff clear first, snooker's a hard game as it is.
I had a couple of freak accidents before China and the World so couldn't do much about it. I nicked some points to stay there or there abouts. I'm a bit disappointed as I should have moved up a bit more than I have.
From being in the top 16 to being out of it, I was quite happy to nick a few results. I've been working on my game which has been good in patches and bad in others, so basically I'm looking forward to a fresh start.
What are your targets for the new season?
I want to get back in the 16, quicker than you know. I set myself well but then didn't play well in China. Mark (Selby) got the better of me and then for the World I only had four or five days practice as I went over on my ankle. When you go into places like that, when the pressure is on you, it does show up. It was disappointing as I'd set myself up for a decent chance and missed out on it really.
The mini tour will be good to get a bit of rhythm, it's match practice you're after really.
I've got a new manager now, Paul Mount, and I've got logos for three years with two deals so things are turning the corner. It's a similar thing to a football team getting a new manager in, they want to play well for him. So I'm looking forward to getting off to a cracking start and running though the season with a bit more consistency.
I'm looking forward to it, there's no doubt about it. I think John Higgins is a great World Champion to help us launch the season again.
I'm looking forward to having a good season under new management and seeing what I can do.
Who do you practise with?
I practise a lot with Robert Milkins and I'll get a few games with Matthew Stevens when he's back from Thailand. I'll get on the road and do a bit more. For the last few years I've done the same old thing, so I thought I'd break it up a bit and get better practice. For me it's about quality practice.
When I was provisionally No 1 back in 2003, I put a lot of work in, but it's mind boggling when your game doesn't turn up when you want it to. But I've come to terms with that. It's finding what works for me.
What are you up to over the summer?
I've been trying to get a bit of weight off, and enjoying the time off. The kids have done a good job of hiding my cue, I haven't seen it yet. I did say after the World Championship that I would leave it a while. I haven't played any golf yet as my hay fever has been really bad. We might look to get away after the qualifiers for China, we'll see how it goes.
16 Dec 2006 19:54:00
The Welsh Open champ's favourite things...
What’s your favourite holiday destination?
Peking in Bath.
Vodka. (Now I know, why I like Stephen :-))
Favourite TV programme?
Top Gear. (Wow, I like it too)
The Devil’s Advocate.
Favourite actor and actress?
Al Pacino and Sandra Bullock.
What car do you drive?
What was your first car?
A Volkswagen given to me by my gran.
Do you play any other sports?
I play some badminton, table tennis, a bit of football, a little bit of golf.
Any other hobbies?
Spending money. (we have many in common :-))
Favourite sports team?
Nassem Hamed. (He has it in common with Ronnie)
Favourite snooker venue?
Ken Doherty’s practice room in a hotel in Dublin, it's unbelievable.
Being part of the Nations Cup team in 2000 when England beat Wales 6-4 in the final.
What’s the lowest moment of your career?
Losing 6-1 to Hendry in the Masters a few years ago.
How many hours a day do you practise?
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
My dad Colin.
What advice do you have to budding young players?
Be focused, enjoy every day of whatever sport you’ve taken up.