Joe Perry felt as though he had been given a stay of execution after defying his form to reach the last 32 of the Coral Northern Ireland Open this afternoon (November 16).
The Chatteris potter admitted he was far from at his best, doing just enough to scrape past compatriot Jimmy Robertson 4-3 at Belfast’s Titanic Exhibition Centre.
It continued what has been a far from fluent tournament for the world number nine as he was unable to make a break greater than 50 in the match, a performance Perry believes requires more work behind the scenes.
“I’m very lucky to be brutally honest, I probably shouldn’t still be in the competition,” he said.
“I played really badly, I was all over the place and played exactly how I did in the first round.
“Somehow I was able to get it to 2-2, then I was 3-2 down and Jimmy looked better than me and certain to go through.
“But from 3-2 down I’ve won two brilliant frames, they weren’t fantastic breaks but I didn’t miss anything and my safety was good, and I was able to string a few together.
“It’s probably down to a lack of time at the practice table, I’m sharp in terms of shot selection because I’ve played a lot of matches but not a lot of other stuff.”
With tournaments coming thick and fast, Perry concedes finding time fine-tuning his game has diminished over recent weeks.
A three-week stint in China saw the 42-year-old have barely a couple of hours on the baize when not in competition, something which he insists is now reducing the pressure he puts on himself.
“It shows up when the fine margins come around, when the game is all about fractions it matters a lot if you’re just the wrong side of the ball,” he continued.
“It’s nothing to really concern me, I just need to go home and put in a few good hours on the practice table. But while I’m still in the competition I can keep plugging away.
“I’ve got no expectation for the week, which is a good thing. I’m delighted to have won, normally I reflect on defeats but this is different, I’m not playing well but I’m in the last 32.
“I know I’m not in form but most games I am still the favourite and people are still expecting me to do things so I have to manage that.”
Watch the Northern Ireland Open LIVE on Eurosport 1 and Quest, featuring daily studio analysis from Ronnie O’Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.