Jubilant Jak Jones says a move to Ding Junhui’s new snooker academy in Sheffield has revolutionised his career, writes Will Jennings.
The Cwmbran star, who recently left home in south Wales to move to the Steel City, reached his first ranking event quarter-final at the English Open after toppling Matthew Stevens 4-3 on Thursday.
The world No.105 won a late night epic in Milton Keynes and believes swapping domestic comforts for Ding's insight is propelling him to glory.
“Moving to Sheffield means I’m practicing with top players all the time and every day,” the 27-year-old beamed.
“I just feel a lot more sharp and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I’ve got to my first quarter-final after just moving there.
Jak Jones emerges from late night snooker drama as a ranking event quarter finalist, for the very first time!— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) October 15, 2020
The Welshman has beaten compatriot Matthew Stevens in a decider, and will face legend of the sport John Higgins next.
Schedule 👉 https://t.co/GDIBl9fo0n #EnglishOpen pic.twitter.com/escif2V9P1
“In the decider there, I kept more calm because I’m doing it day in, day out, with different players.
“When I was at home I was practising on my own every day for seven or eight hours but I was coming to tournaments with no sharpness or confidence at all.
“I didn’t know how I was playing so I just thought I had to move to Sheffield. It was quite comfortable living at home with my mum and dad when my mum doing everything for me.
“But I just thought I’ve got to move as if I kept doing the same thing I’d get the same results, so it’s definitely been a massive help.
“I just didn’t have the players to practice with in Wales - I knew I had to make the move but now I’ve done it I can look forward now.”
Carmarthen potter Stevens, a two-time World Championship finalist, hit breaks of 71 and 53 but a rock-solid performance from Jones hauled him into the last eight.
Jones, who reached the fourth round of the English Open in 2016, made a visit of 91 in the second frame and then held his nerve in the seventh to edge over the line.
Next up is four-time world champion John Higgins and a joyous Jones says he’s got nothing to lose.
“There’s not really any pressure on me tomorrow - obviously I want to win and I’ll try my best to win,” he added.
“Obviously it will be very hard and I’ll try my best.”