World Snooker 2012: Ali Carter confident of first title

By Ben DirsBBC Sport at the Crucible
World Snooker Championship 2012: Battling Ali Carter clinches final spot

Ali Carter says he is better prepared for his World Championship final against Ronnie O'Sullivan than the last time they met in the Crucible final.

Carter, who was beaten 18-8 in 2008, said: "I feel totally different, I was mentally shattered last time. Maybe I can make things difficult for him."

However, Carter's semi-final victim Stephen Maguire gave him no chance.

Maguire said: "He turned down a lot of pots and you can't do that [against O'Sullivan]. You'll get punished."

It is a remarkable turnaround from Essex star Carter, 32, who threatened to retire earlier this season because of the debilitating effects of Crohn's disease.

However, Carter is reaping the rewards of a new diet, as well as the guidance of 2002 world champion Peter Ebdon, who has been by his side all tournament.

"I'm as surprised as you lot are," said Carter. "But the job's not done yet, I'm not just happy to be in the final.

"Stephen tried to stamp his authority on the match and I think he thought he was going to beat me quite easily the way he started.

"But I wasn't having any of it, I was up for it. There weren't any fireworks but I played some real solid stuff and got the job done.

"I feel in better shape and Peter has helped me massively. He's always been there to help me and he will continue to do so in the next couple of days."

The match against Maguire hinged on a ruling in the first frame of the final session, when referee Leo Scullion chose not to call a miss after Carter tried and failed to escape a difficult snooker with five previous attempts.

And while he subsequently missed with a double attempt on the red in question and Carter sealed the frame, Maguire had no real complaints.

Carter recovers to claim crucial frame

"It's the referee's call and Leo's a top ref, but it was a brave call to make," said the 31-year-old, also a semi-finalist in 2007.

"I was surprised but I know how hard the shot was. But I don't like winning frames when the guy misses. I don't like the miss rule but it made no difference.

"The first session I didn't give him enough respect, I just thought I'd go for my shots and control the match. It never worked out that way.

"I'll get over it, I'm a big boy, but I missed a very good opportunity there to get my hands on that trophy."

Asked if Carter was capable of beating O'Sullivan in the final, the Glaswegian simply said "no", before going on to suggest Carter's game was too negative.

"I wouldn't say Ali played well, I let him off the hook so many times and over the course of a final Ronnie won't let him off the hook the way I did.

"There were a few frames where he could have killed the frame off and I would end up getting snookers and get back in the frame and lose it after 20 minutes.

"I just wish he would go in and take that extra shot on and make an eighty break. It worked for that match but it's not going to work any longer."

Carter, who made nine breaks of more than 50 compared to Maguire's six, responded: "I don't think I played negatively by any means, not if you look at my break stats.

"You don't know what's going to happen against Ronnie, when he's in form he can be a runaway train. But I'll just play the shot that's in front of me and see what happens.

"He beat me comprehensively last time [18-8] but by the time I got to the final I was thinking 'where am I and what am I doing?'

"I certainly don't feel like that this time. And I've got the force behind me this time [in Peter Ebdon], so we'll see."

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