Ben Woollaston wants Welsh Open to be breakthrough moment

By Owen PhillipsBBC Sport
Ben Woollaston
Woollaston is ranked 26 in the world after winning six matches on his way to the Welsh Open final

Ben Woollaston hopes reaching his first ranking event final will be a breakthrough moment in his career.

The 27-year-old Leicester cueman was in superb form at last week's Welsh Open, beating top players including Mark Allen, Ali Carter and Mark Williams to set up a meeting with John Higgins.

But facing the four-time world champion in the final proved a step too far, with Woollaston losing 9-3.

"I didn't perform, but it's definitely a breakthrough," he told BBC Sport.

"I have only been in one ranking quarter-final before and it was the best I have every played on a consistent basis.

"I have had big wins against big players, but have never really put it together before last week.

"I beat three top-16 players to get there and only made a few mistakes in those games. It was just a shame I didn't perform in the final. But it was a long week and maybe I am not used to it like John is.

"I felt pretty comfortable I just didn't have a good day."

Woollaston's sole success
Ben Woollaston's only title so far as a professional came when he beat Graeme Dott in the final of a Players Tour Championship event in Sheffield in 2011 - just two months after he married Belarusian wife Tatiana.

Woollaston also beat Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon, Mark Davis and Gary Wilson on his way to securing the £30,000 runner-up cheque.

And his performance had the added bonus of moving him up to 26 in the world rankings.

He said the cash would come in very "handy", and ease the financial worries associated with travelling all around the world to compete on the main tour.

But Woollaston, whose wife Tatania is a snooker referee and was also working in Cardiff, said the self-belief gained for the rest of the season was more significant.

He also had plenty of support among his snooker peers.

Reigning world champion Mark Selby and Peter Ebdon, winner at the Crucible in 2002, were among the players who sent Woollaston congratulatory messages on his achievements.

"I had lots of players texting me which was great," Woollaston said. "Hopefully I can take the positives out of the way I played and make more finals."

He is next in action at the Gdynia Open in Poland on Saturday when he takes on Barry Pinches.