Party animal Mark Allen happy he has the right balance at World Championship

Mark Allen is adamant partying still has its place as he prepares to continue his quest for a maiden world snooker title at the Crucible on Saturday.

The Antrim 38-year-old launched a dramatic health drive that saw him shed over six stone in the last two years, and has been rewarded by a handful of ranking titles and a surge to third in the current world rankings.

But ahead of his second-round clash with John Higgins, night owl Allen stressed the need to continue striking a balance as he aims to plot a path to the final for the first time.

Cazoo World Snooker Championship 2024 – Day Five – The Crucible
Mark Allen has kept his partying to a minimum ahead of his latest Crucible quest (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Just because you’re going out partying doesn’t mean you’re not dedicated and applying yourself to the sport,” Allen told the PA news agency.

“I think in the past I probably didn’t get the balance quite right, and it’s about doing things at the right times, because you’ve got to have a life away from snooker.

“I still enjoy a night out with my friends. I probably don’t do it as often as I did, but when I do, I make up for it. I enjoy having a few shots and going on the vodka, but I never do it too close to a tournament now, and that’s the difference.”

Allen, who reached the semi-finals last year – only his second appearance in the one-table set-up after a series of early-round disappointments – revealed he was convinced to change his mindset after a painful 13-4 second-round defeat to Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2022.

That loss coincided with a period of turmoil in his private life, after divorcing his then wife in 2020, and declaring himself bankrupt the following year despite career earnings in excess of £3.5million.

Allen added: “Ronnie wasn’t playing anywhere near his best and he still brushed me aside, and I had to ask myself whether I wanted to be that player who came back here and didn’t challenge.

“It’s been deflating coming here so many times and under-performing, because I know I’ve got the game to win it. I’ve tried so many things and so far none of them have worked, but I feel like I’ve improved things in recent years and I’ve come into the tournament this year on a whole new level.”

Cazoo World Snooker Championship 2024 – Day Seven – The Crucible
David Gilbert stretched his lead over Robert Milkins (Mike Egerton/PA)

Judd Trump is two frames away from a return to the quarter-finals after pulling away from Tom Ford in the second session of their second-round match to establish an 11-5 overnight lead.

Leading 7-2 after Thursday’s opening session, the second seed took the first frame upon the resumption before Ford spurned a strong chance of this year’s first Crucible maximum, running aground on 73 after nine reds and eight blacks.

Trump capitalised on a series of errors from Ford to ease further clear and at one stage looked capable of winning the match with a session to spare, before the 14th seed rallied and took the final frame of the day with a break of 83.

Cazoo World Snooker Championship 2024 – Day Seven – The Crucible
Judd Trump moved two frames away from a place in the quarter-finals (Mike Egerton/PA)

David Gilbert dispatched Robert Milkins 13-4 to become the first player through to the quarter-finals, and revealed a rigorous fitness regime is behind his push to reach the last four for the first time since 2019.

Leading 12-4 after Friday’s morning session, Gilbert required just 17 minutes to complete his victory over 16th seed Robert Milkins, who was hampered by a recurring back injury and showed the extent of his frustration by hurling his cue after missing a simple red in the 12th frame.

“The lesson I learned from when I got to the semi-final was you have to be as fit as possible,” said Gilbert.

“I’m using my time wisely, eating properly and the right things. I’m hitting the gym, pure weights and just trying to lift as heavy as I can. I’m going to smash the gym and keep eating the right stuff.”

Stephen Maguire battled to a 5-3 overnight lead against former winner Shaun Murphy, while Jak Jones carved a 9-7 advantage over last year’s semi-finalist Si Jiahui after a poor quality second session of their second-round match.