Anthony Hamilton: German Masters champion on first ranking event win

Anthony Hamilton
Hamilton beat three former world champions and two former runners-up on his way to lifting the German Masters title

Underpants. Well, underpants and shirts. Not necessarily what Anthony Hamilton thought would be on his mind so soon after the best moment of his 26-year snooker career.

But his mundane back-to-reality moment after the highs of winning his first ranking title was a most welcome by-product of his German Masters success.

"It was the logistics," Hamilton, 45, told BBC Sport. "I just had no time to get myself sorted after winning and had no clean underpants and no clean shirts. I just wasn't prepared for winning and staying so long.

"I had the after-party on Sunday, got back at 5am and then booked my flight for Monday afternoon. I went to my club in London on Monday night to see a few people and was then driving 200 miles for the next tournament on Tuesday."

As it was, the Nottingham-born, adopted Londoner need not have worried about a long stay for the World Grand Prix in Preston.

"I got pumped 4-0 by Mark Allen so just drove 200 miles back again," he said. "The thing was I didn't do anything wrong.

"I think I missed one ball and he played out of his skin and potted everything he went for. Snooker is a one-man sport and sometimes there isn't a lot you can do."

Hamilton was unable to build on his Berlin exploits but it did at least give him time to reflect on a "weird" and "wonderful" few days.

"It was the first time I could breathe properly. Until then I hadn't had time to enjoy the best week of my career," he added.

Winning the hard way

Victories over three World Championship winners and two Crucible runners-up saw him triumph in front of a hugely enthusiastic crowd at the Tempodrom and get hold of a pay cheque worth 80,000 Euros (£68,000).

Beating reigning world number one Mark Selby, Stuart Bingham and Mark Williams, as well as former finalists Barry Hawkins and Ali Carter, ensured there was no doubt he earned his long-awaited first-ranking title win the hard way.

"I don't look at draws before I play," said the new world number 37. "If I had, I probably wouldn't have gone.

"There are no bad players in the last 16, but they are only as good as how they play," said Hamilton, who trailed Carter 5-2 in the final. "And hardly any played to their potential - apart from Ali in the first session of the final.

"I found some form right at the end from absolutely nowhere. At one stage I couldn't pot a ball but then played the best snooker of my life."

Hamilton turned professional in 1991, has spent five years in the world's top 16 during his career, reached two ranking event finals, and played in four World Championship quarter-finals.

Anthony Hamilton
Hamilton has played at the World Championship 12 times, reaching the quarter-finals on four occasions

But the past decade has been a massive struggle, so his resurgence is remarkable. Previously acknowledged as the best player never to have won a ranking event, the "Sheriff of Pottingham" described his play as "rubbish a lot of the time" as recently as November 2014 during the UK Championship.

A chronic back injury, which is constantly on his mind, has been the main reason for his steady slide down the rankings to the point where he was perilously close to dropping off the main snooker tour.

"It's spine damage. Four vertebrae are worn down and the cartilage is worn and the muscles spasm," Hamilton explained. "But I am managing it better than I used to.

"I am doing less practice, but more quality practice.

"Some weeks it's just too much, other weeks it will abate so it's a weird one. But it's always on my mind. It's part of the job - instead of moaning about how good I used to be, I have to get on with and make the best of it.

"Any win is a good win and matchplay is not much worse. But I am probably about 30% as good as I used to be in practice."

No more looking back

As well as coping with his unpredictable back and associated neck problems, Hamilton makes sure he stays calm and draws on his experience.

"There are other ways to skin a cat," Hamilton added. "For 18 months I have been playing well. Last season was the starting point but I stopped worrying if I would win a tournament.

"It's crazy that it happens when you stop thinking about trying to do it. It's no coincidence that you take the pressure off by stopping wanting it so badly.

"Now, whatever happens, I try to do the right things, stop chucking my toys out of the pram, stop being too passionate, just be calm and try to the end.

"If you can drive home after a loss and you have tried your best, be happy. And I have been doing that."

The sweetest tasting cup of tea

It was fitting his mother and father were there to witness his finest moment. Clifford is his most passionate fan, but Stella's appearance was a rarity.

"Everybody knows my dad on tour," Hamilton said. "He goes when it's two men and a dog. He is a massive supporter and is super cool.

"Mum had not really been for about 10 years, I never ask her to go because she doesn't really enjoy watching me because it's too stressful.

"But I just wanted her to come to Berlin, have a holiday, see the brilliant venue and the mad crowd before I retired. What a lucky coincidence that it's the one I win.

"They have wanted me to win something for years and I so wanted to win it for them but I had basically stopped thinking about it, so it's nuts how it turns out.

"We were all so happy the next morning. We sat having a cup of tea in the hotel - the three of us - just laughing at how mad life is. What a great week."

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