Judd Trump acknowledges he will begin his World Championship campaign low on confidence but believes he performs best when the pressure is off.
Hopes have been high for Trump since he turned professional as a teenager, with many tipping him to be snooker's next big star.
Now 28, Trump's only 'Triple Crown' title to date came at the UK Championship in 2011, a victory seven months after his only appearance in the Crucible final, where he lost to John Higgins.
Trump has twice reached the semi-finals since then and is regularly considered among the favourites for the tournament when snooker makes its annual pilgrimage to Sheffield.
But the Bristolian has not lived up to that billing in recent seasons - a second-round exit to eventual finalist Ding Junhui in 2016 was followed last year by a shock first-round defeat to Rory McLeod.
That disappointing run at the Crucible Theatre has taken its toll on Trump's confidence, but he hopes that lowered expectations can give him the freedom to perform to his best this year.
"I probably feel less confident than the last two times," he told Omnisport. "[But] I normally play my best stuff when I'm the underdog, when I go unnoticed, and I think that's what's been happening this year.
"At the Masters I was unlucky [losing 6-5 to Kyren Wilson in the semi-finals] and that was kind of going unnoticed - I hadn't been playing particularly well before that.
"Now it's the same at this tournament.
"The pressure's on a lot of the other players. It's on them to produce the goods and people like me and Ding can go a little bit unnoticed and go through this tournament."
Trump also revealed that, in addition to the pressure that comes from outside, strong runs of form can force him into a change of mentality that has an impact on his game.
"When I start winning events, I get into a period where I'm trying not to lose rather than going out there and enjoying it and trying to win," he added.
"At this period of time I'm probably enjoying it and trying to win rather than not lose.
"When you're winning every game, you start looking over your shoulder and everyone wants to beat you.
"When you're not playing that well, no one really takes any notice of you. They're not going out and trying their absolute best to knock you off your throne.
"I think that's when opportunities arise."
Trump begins his campaign against Crucible debutant Chris Wakelin on Wednesday, with the winner to face Ricky Walden in the second round.
17 de enero 2019
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