Fenland cueman Joe eyes Crucible crown at start of World Snooker bid

Joe Perry at the table.

Joe Perry at the table.

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Chatteris cueman Joe Perry is relishing the prospect of stepping out on the world stage again when he begins his Betfred World Snooker Championship campaign tonight.

Perry,41, opens his 2016 dream against Kettering’s Kyren Wilson at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.

It’s almost eight years since Perry found himself on the cusp of reaching a world final when he lost 17-15 to Ali Carter in the last four.

But Perry remains just as fond of the gruelling 17-day showpiece as he did when he first made his Crucible bow back in 1999.

Perry said: “The Crucible is the best arena I have and will ever play in. It really is a special place to play your snooker, especially when it goes down from two tables to playing on just the one.

“It’s the blue riband event on the calendar. People who don’t even necessary enjoy the sport always remember the likes of Dennis Taylor and Joe Johnson winning it and going down in snooker history.

“For me to win it would be the ultimate moment of my career. I agree with what Stephen Maguire said the other day, that if he was to win it would be more for his family than him.”

Perry spent Sunday practising with good friend and world number four Neil Robertson before continuing his preparations against Barry Hawkins on Monday.

He was due to travel up to Sheffield yesterday ahead of his first round clash against Wilson, who he has mentored in the past couple of years.

“Kyren is a very, very good player who is tipped for great things. He’s been a practice partner of mine over the past couple of years and I’ve got a lot of respect for him,” said Perry.

“It is all about me, though. If I play to my best then I know I can beat him.”

Perry, sitting in the top ten of the world rankings, has enjoyed another solid season, reaching the semi-finals of the Champion of Champions, Welsh Open and World Grand Prix events.

And despite not feeling on top of his game, the Fen Potter knows what it will take if he is going to emulate or better his achievements of 2008.

“I’m feeling pretty relaxed and sharp. Although I’m not playing at my best, I know it’s about picking up my form as the tournament goes on.

“I think I’m the oldest player in the top 16 now, but I’m not concerned about the age side of things. Having that experience is important, especially at Sheffield where the Crucible nerves can also play a part.

“For me it’s about winning a couple of rounds and playing myself into form at the right time.”