John Astley eyes York 'home' boost at UK Championship

John Astley
John Astley reached the second round of the 2013 UK Championship with a thrilling win over Ken Doherty

John Astley hopes "home" advantage can help him rediscover his best form at the UK Championship in York.

Astley was named Rookie of the Year last season, with a first-round UK Championship win over ex-world champion Ken Doherty being his highlight.

But the 25-year-old Gateshead potter told BBC Sport: "This season has been slower than I would have liked.

"But I've been coming to York for years and it does feel a bit like I'm playing at home. I will get great support."

Astley, who faces Jamie Cope in the first round of this season's tournament on Wednesday, could not build on his win over Doherty and was beaten 6-1 by Stuart Carrington in round two.

Astley not giving up
"On my day I can beat anybody. But nothing replaces winning matches. The tour is so busy that the season can turn around in one week. The key is not to get too downbeat when things are not going your way."

But he fondly recalls playing at the Barbican Centre and hopes familiar surroundings will kickstart his season.

"Beating Ken at the Barbican was a brilliant experience. It felt special. I've been going there since I was about 11 years old," the world number 76 said.

"It's my closest tournament by quite a distance, it's one of the biggest tournaments in the calendar and I am really looking forward to it.

"I have had some tough draws and my form has been a bit mixed. I played Mark Selby in the first round at the Wuxi Classic and that was not the easiest way to start the season.

"I have been practising hard, but sometimes it just doesn't go your way. There have been a few lapses of concentration too - and at this level you cannot do that."

Astley said he learned a great deal from last season - his debut one on the snooker tour - and will take confidence from the World Snooker Rookie Award.

Ken Doherty
Ken Doherty was world champion in 1997

"To be recognised was obviously a special moment," Astley said. "It was a big boost to my inner confidence and I had a decent first season on the tour."

As well as beating Doherty, Astley also beat world finalist Barry Hawkins and only lost final-frame deciders to former world champions John Higgins and Peter Ebdon.

"On my day I can beat anybody," Astley added. "But nothing replaces winning matches. The tour is so busy that the season can turn around in one week.

"The key is not to get too downbeat when things are not going your way. And the biggest thing I have picked up is that making the next step is in your head. Most players have the talent, it's the mental side of things."

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