Lack of practice hinders Joe Perry in late Masters call up
By Will Jennings
Undercooked Joe Perry admits a total lack of practice left him ‘blagging it’ on his unexpected Masters appearance against David Gilbert.
The Cambridgeshire potter was a late call-up for the prestigious, top 16-only tournament after world No 1 Judd Trump tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday.
But the 2017 finalist was unable to take advantage as a 6-2 defeat against world No 13 Gilbert sent him packing from Milton Keynes early.
Perry, the world No 19, had taken an extensive break from snooker over Christmas and says his lack of preparedness for the Triple Crown event cost him dear.
The 46-year-old said: “He looked very strong out there and I played as I expected to.
“I was blagging it. In the balls and up close I was okay, but safety and anything from distance was a bit of guesswork.
“I’m not making excuses – I’m lucky to be in the tournament, but I wasn’t prepared to play someone in that sort of form, that good in those conditions.
“The tables find you out if you’re not in good touch. The tables are beautiful but if you slightly mistime one, it really shows up.
“Had this event fell bang in the middle of the season, I probably would have been match sharp because I would have played a tournament a week ago. But I haven’t played in a tournament since the World Grand Prix before Christmas.
“I knew I wasn’t playing again until the end of January. We don’t get much time off any more so I took the opportunity to have three weeks off and come back refreshed.
“It hasn’t backfired, because I’ve just been given £15,000 for turning up, but it didn’t give me a great chance of competing out there tonight.”
Trump, 31, and world No 14 Jack Lisowski, 29, were the only two positives tests out of all players and officials at the behind closed doors Marshall Arena.
Gary Wilson – Lisowski’s replacement – lost 6-2 to Kyren Wilson in his first round match and Perry suffered the same fate against a fluent Gilbert.
The four-time ranking event runner-up knocked in five half-century breaks to down the Cambridgeshire veteran and dash his hopes of emulating last year’s run to the quarter-finals.
The clock continues to tick towards this year’s World Championship where Perry will look to descend on the Crucible baize for a 17th time.
He was planning to resume practice this week anyway and hopes runs at the upcoming German Masters and Welsh Open can gear him up for a crack at Sheffield glory.
“The plan was to have an extensive break and start practicing during the Masters,” he added.
“Watching the boys on TV would have given me the bug and the incentive to get back out there again.
“I’ll try and push on, build up now and get all my confidence and my game back.
“I felt it was coming back before Christmas, so I’ve got to build on that and keep working towards the big one at the end of the season.”
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