Rob Cross ready to regain Betfred World Matchplay crown in Blackpool after his hardest year

Rob Cross believes he is regaining the form which earned him Betfred World Matchplay glory in 2019 as he prepares to continue his Winter Gardens challenge tonight.

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 12:30 pm

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Cross soared to victory in the Blackpool event two years ago, having become world champion in 2018 at the end of his debut season.

However, he has since dropped out of the world’s top four and was a first round casualty in last year’s World Matchplay, as well as being eliminated from the 2020 and 2021 Premier Leagues.

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Former Blackpool champion Rob Cross is back at the top of his game after a 'soul-destroying' spell

Cross, though, impressed in his first round defeat of Ross Smith on Sunday and now plays youngster Callan Rydz in tonight’s opening second round ties.

“Last year I probably had the hardest year I’ve ever had,” said Cross. “I haven’t been really competing and, when you’re not in a game, it’s soul-destroying.

“Now, all of a sudden, I know I can compete at the highest class. I just needed a little bit of structure in my life and something to build from.

“I’ve got that now. My game’s changed a lot – I’ve worked really hard and I’m enjoying it again. Now I feel that I’ve got a game I can go out and win with.

“There’s a lot more there. I know I can hit doubles under pressure and win games.”

Cross will take to the Winter Gardens stage in front of 2,000 fans tonight, having played on Sunday before just 800 due to Covid restrictions.

He welcomed the return of fans, adding: “Everything that I’ve missed for the last 16 months was here on Sunday so I’m very grateful. It’s amazing to be back – the last time I walked out here, I won it.”

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