Mark Davis’ dreams of a fairy-tale return to Crawley were shattered, as the 2018 runner-up fell at the first hurdle of this year’s English Open.
The St Leonards potter was overturned 4-2 by 2006 world champion Graeme Dott, dashing his hopes of going one better than making the final last time out.
Despite Davis notching a break of 55 to race into an early lead in the match, Dott hit back with a half-century of his own, before extending his lead to 3-1 in the following two frames.
Davis remained in the tie and showed glimpses of a comeback charge by making it 3-2, but world number 21 Dott showed his class in the sixth with a break of 89 to advance to the next round.
“I’m obviously disappointed,” Davis said. “I had a great run last year and I’ll never forget that, but I wasn’t good enough on this occasion.
“I was hoping that walking through the doors again would inspire me to perform well, but unfortunately my game just wasn’t where it needed to be.
“I made too many mistakes, and you can’t do that against a player like Graeme, so I got what I deserved in the end.
“There were scrappy periods of the game, but he was on top in pretty much every department and I’m happy to hold my hands up and say the better player won.”
Davis’ charge to the competition’s showpiece 12 months ago sparked suggestions he could go on to establish himself further up the rankings, but the current world number 38 has in fact found times tough since losing out on the trophy to Stuart Bingham.
With the new season hotting up ahead of a hectic winter period, Davis insisted it’s now important he keeps working hard behind the scenes to ensure he showcases his true potential when it matters most.
He said: “I’ve struggled to play at all well since last year. I try to go into every match with a clear mind, but I haven’t been consistent at all which has been very frustrating.
“Maybe not winning it has affected me more than I thought; who knows?
“I’m too old to go back to the drawing board, but I’ll keep practicing and try and recapture some form at the next competition.”
Watch the English Open live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with studio analysis from Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White