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Ben Mertens has ‘nothing to worry about’ ahead of crunch Crucible qualifiers

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Ben Mertens has ‘nothing to worry about’ ahead of crunch Crucible qualifiers

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Ben Mertens is one of the best teenage talents in the game (Picture: Facebook/Ben Mertens Snooker)

Ben Mertens is playing for his professional status at World Championship qualifying, but the teenager is thinking positive, saying: ‘I’m confident, I’m playing well, so nothing to worry about.’

The 19-year-old won his place on the World Snooker Tour in 2022 and has had some good results, but goes to Sheffield needing to win matches to retain his tour card as he is outside of the world’s top 64 and off the pace on the one-year ranking list.

The Belgian clearly has the talent to do it, with wins over the likes of Shaun Murphy and Gary Wilson this season and he will be dangerous in qualifying, where he plays Rod Lawler in his first match on Friday.

‘I know what situation I’m in, I have to win a few games to stay on tour,’ Mertens told Metro. ‘So it’s nerves but also exciting because it’s the World Championship and a chance to qualify for the Crucible.

‘Of course I have to think about the good things and not what could go wrong.

‘Qualifying for the Crucible, that’s the only thing to think about, not all the rest. I did well last year in qualifying, I’m confident, I’m playing well, so nothing to worry about.’

The youngster from Wetteren feels tough draws, strong performances from his opponents and fine margins have all cost him, but he is not down about any of it, expecting things to turn round.

Mertens needs wins in World Championship qualifying to remain a professional (Picture: Getty Images)

‘A lot of matches I’ve played have been really close, could have gone both ways and players have played really well against me the last few tournaments,’ he said. ‘I can’t really complain too much about myself because I’m playing well.

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‘It is what it is. It’s good to have tough draws. I’ll be a stronger player because of it in the future. I don’t worry too much.

‘I know if I’m playing well I can beat anyone, so I just need to trust in myself, that’s the only thing that matters.’

Mertens would love to stay on the tour in style by qualifying for the Crucible for the first time, then he would be dreaming of replicating his compatriot Luca Brecel’s achievement of last year.

The teenager has never been to the legendary venue before, refusing to go in to watch before playing there.

‘The Crucible, that’s the place to be in snooker, that’s my dream to play there one day. I saw what Luca did there, that gives me inspiration,’ he said.

Luca Brecel became the first Belgian winner of the World Snooker Championship (Picture: Getty Images)

‘We’ve talked a few times in the past. He’s a very nice guy and I want to try and do the same as him in the future, to be at the Crucible and play well there, that’s what I want.

‘I won’t go there before I do that, if I go to the Crucible it will be to play, not watch.’

On the impact of Brecel’s sensational World Championship win back in Belgium, Mertens said: ‘It’s more popular now, clubs are fully booked now, there’s more attention, which is only good news. I would love to see a tournament here.’

The teenager has had a difficult situation to deal with over his young career so far, developing a tremor in his head, which he has learned to control but not entirely.

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‘It’s still there,’ he said. ‘I had some tests and they said everything is normal. In the past it was a mental issue, now it’s getting better, I’m not thinking about it mentally anymore.

‘It isn’t affecting my game, but it was affecting my mental side of the game. I was always thinking about it, that people would see it, but I’m not worrying about it anymore. It is what it is.

‘It was a surprise, I never had it before, so it was something I had to get used to, getting a tremor out of nowhere. But it’s getting better now. If I get nervous you will see it more, but if I’m calm it’s okay. I just have to try and stay calm during games, try not to get too much pressure and then it doesn’t affect me.’

Mertens takes on Lawler over Friday and Saturday in his first round of World Championship qualifying.


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