World No.1 Judd Trump admitted he still has plenty of room for improvement, after booking his spot in the UK Championship quarter-finals at the expense of Ricky Walden.
The 31-year-old arrived at the first Triple Crown event of the snooker season in fine form having lifted the Northern Ireland Open trophy a week earlier, his second ranking event title already in 2020/21.
And having made light work of Paul Davison, Dominic Dale and Liang Wenbo, Trump duly fought off a late challenge from former world No.6 Walden to prevail 6-3 and claim a last-eight spot at the tournament for the first time since 2014.
But while among the favourites to claim a second UK Championship crown in Milton Keynes - particularly with the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan and defending champion Ding Junhui already eliminated - Trump insists he is yet to find his best form but is hopeful he can turn on the style towards the tournament’s latter stages.
“I’m still stuck in neutral at the moment but I’m getting the job done,” said Trump, who beat Mark Allen in the 2011 final.
“It’s important to keep winning, even if you’re not playing at your best. You’re always going to have your off days and it’s about just doing everything you can to get over the line.
“I’m not quite there yet but every day’s different in snooker and hopefully in the next game I can improve and find some more form.”
Having beaten three-time world champion Mark Williams in Round 3 three-time ranking event winner Walden appeared to be a tough prospect for Trump, only for the Bristol potter to race into a 4-0 lead at the mid-session interval.
After being pegged back to 5-3 before seeing the game out, Trump revealed he found it tough to find his rhythm after the break and expects to be pushed harder next time out against world No.4 Kyren Wilson with a place in the last four at stake.
“It was tough towards the end, the balls just didn’t really run my way after the interval and nothing seemed to fall nicely for me,” added Trump.
“I stole an important first frame and I managed to get a good lead at the interval, but in the end I fell over the line.
“It got quite scrappy but I played some good safety, made some good pots and ultimately I got my reward.”