Joe Perry makes brilliant comeback to advance in UK Championship
By Will Jennings
Joe Perry reckons his season is finally taking off after battling from behind to stun Joe O’Connor in the third round of the UK Championship.
The Cambridgeshire player, who trains at WT's Sports Bar in Cambridge, rattled off four consecutive frames at 5-2 down to complete an act of Milton Keynes escapology and reach the fourth round of a ranking event for the first time this season.
Perry, ranked 30 places above world No 49 O’Connor, has slumped to early defeats in the English and Northern Ireland Opens but says things are falling into place as he targets a third run to the semi-finals in the Triple Crown event.
“I’m just doing what I’ve been doing all the other tournaments,” the 46-year-old said.
“I’ve felt like my game’s been improving tournament after tournament. I’ve gone into the matches with a slightly different and more positive mindset, and maybe it’s a contribution of all things.
“I’ve been practicing hard for a long time, but sometimes it takes a long time for all your practice you put in to actually come out onto the match table.
“It definitely was taking its time and I struggled for a long time there, but I do feel like I’m getting better as each match goes on.
“I thought I played really well and we both played really well – Joe’s a solid player. I don’t think I made that many mistakes and I couldn’t keep up with him. He played really well but there was a big turnaround.
“I was pleased with the way I hung in there when it looked like it was all over. I stuck in there and played all the right shots and did well. I saved my best stuff until the end of the match, which was always nice.”
O’Connor came out of the blocks rapidly as breaks of 93 and 60 shocked the 2015 Tour champion to leave him 5-2 behind.
But then came the Cambridgeshire player’s roaring comeback as he cut the gap to 5-4 after a pair of scrappy frames.
And Perry, over two decades older than his Leicester opponent, showed all his experience as gutsy breaks of 71 and 73 hauled him into the last 16.
There he will meet either Welsh player Jamie Jones or Swiss No 1 Alexander Ursenbacher, who lowered the colours of six-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in his third round match.
Perry admits he rode his luck against O’Connor – who had only once previously progressed beyond the fourth round of a ranking event – and a jawed pot with just one frame required will leave him having nightmares after his exit.
“When he was clearing up to win 6-3, it didn’t look too good, but when he left himself a tricky one along the cushion and I knew it was missable, as the pockets were playing really tight,” he added.
“Luckily for me it hung on the edge. I feel for him a little bit and he’ll be thinking about that all night – he won’t be able to sleep.
“I know what it’s like to be within a ball of getting through to the next round, and it’s not nice.”