Mark Allen stormed into round two at the Crucible on Tuesday night (Picture: Getty Images)Mark Allen made light work of his first round opponent Lyu Haotian in the World Snooker Championship, but says off-table issues have left him with no expectations of success at the Crucible this year.
The Pistol scored a 10-2 win over Lyu, making breaks of 139, 116 and 102 along the way in a dominant performance over 23-year-old.
The Northern Irishman has had an unusually quiet season ahead of the World Championship, reaching just one quarter-final other than his immense run to victory at the Champion of Champions in November.
Allen saw off Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and Neil Robertson en route to the title in a stunning run of performances, but we have not seen any of that form since.
The 35-year-old is not surprised, given that he is dealing with ‘highly distracting’ occurrences off the table, which he is not ready to detail at this stage.
‘I’ve had a lot of stuff going on off the table that I’d rather not talk about, but it’s been highly distracting,’ Allen told a post-match press conference after beating Lyu.
‘It happened pretty much at the end of the Champion of Champions and it’s no coincidence that my form has been awful since and it’ll be great whenever all that goes away, but it probably won’t go away any time soon.
‘I just want to come here and give it my best shot, but I’m not coming here with any expectations, which is not like me. I know I’ve got the game to win this tournament, but with so much going on it’s been very, very hard to focus.’
Allen did impress in his first match, though, and snapped a worrying little run after back-to-back first round exits at the Crucible, losing to Zhou Yuelong and Jamie Clarke over the last two years.
‘Coming in here with zero form didn’t really help me there!’ Allen said of breaking that streak. ‘Even then the first session being 7-2 up all I could think about was, “it’s mine to lose!”
‘It’s mad the things you could think about. All in all it was a decent performance, it wasn’t my best stuff, but it was good enough.’
Next up for Allen is Mark Selby or Kurt Maflin in the last 16, with three-time world champion Selby the obvious favourite to progress but the Northern Irishman talking up Maflin’s chances.
Mark Selby edged Kurt Maflin in a memorable first round game in 2015 (Picture: Getty Images)‘I’ve never played him [Selby] here and he’s won here three times so it’ll be very, very tough,’ said Allen. ‘But he’s got a tough match up with Kurt Maflin, someone I rate very highly and get on with very well and it’s one of them things, I’ll have to play well, better than I did today even though the score line is very flattering.
‘You have to scrape Mark off the table and if it’s Kurt I’m probably going to have to tighten up on the safety, such a good long-potter, very aggressive.
‘I’m looking forward to round two, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to say that.’
Selby and Maflin play over two sessions on Wednesday and Thursday with the resultant last 16 tie starting on Saturday.
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