World Championship 2013: Robert Milkins primed for Crucible return

Milkins rekindles love for snooker

Gloucestershire's Robert Milkins believes he is ready to put a series of personal issues behind him as he makes his World Championship return.

Milkins will face former champion Neil Robertson on Wednesday - his first appearance at the Crucible since 2005.

And after struggling with off-the-table problems, the 37-year-old told BBC Points West: "Making it back to the Crucible is brilliant for me.

"I found my love for the game again but for a number of years, I did lose it."

Milkins, based at Quedgeley's South West Snooker Academy, turned professional in 1995 and made a name for himself after he reached the last 16 of the World Championship in 2002.

But last time Bristol-born Milkins played in the Sheffield arena he was beaten 10-1 by Welshman Mark Williams, who in turn managed a maximum break.

In the intervening eight years, Milkins saw his world ranking drop from 26 down to 70 as his personal demons started to affect his game.

"I was drinking and gambling. I've not helped myself and I've gone off the rails a bit," he said.

"I went down to about 70th in the world and I knew I shouldn't have been in that position. I always thought I should be in the top 16 or just outside.

"It hurt me when I was losing but if you disrespect the game it can turn around and bite you.

"But in the last couple of years my life has turned around, thanks to friends and my manager. I've got two young kids now and I've been practising harder than ever.

"It took some time for me to turn it around. I've done that now."

Milkins proved he had rediscovered his form by beating Jimmy White 10-5 to set up a first-round meeting with Robertson.

And despite sitting 16 places below the number two seed in the rankings. Milkins is confident of a victory.

"I'll be ready for him," he said. "It's a tough draw as he's a great player but a lot of people are more vulnerable at the beginning of a tournament.

"Whoever I play I make myself favourite. We all think we're the best in the world and I'm very confident."

But he admits: "I'll probably be terrified. I haven't been there for eight years so I can't remember what it feels like.

"But sometimes it makes you play better if you are a bit nervous."

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