World number eight Shaun Murphy is hoping a strict health and fitness regime will kickstart his snooker career and fire him to glory at The Masters, which opens its doors at Alexandra Palace on Sunday.
Victory for the former World and UK Champion would see him join the small group of players to have won the sport’s ‘triple crown’.
Murphy has followed a careful diet over the past five months in order to lose weight, which he hopes will improve his stamina and concentration at the table.
“I have completely changed my eating habits,” said the 31-year-old. “It has been a real education to learn about diet for the first time.
“In the past, my relationship with food was always based on how I felt.
“As a sportsman you are constantly up and down and that affected my diet. Since August, I have stopped eating things which I don’t deem to be good for me.
“Having done it and enjoyed the rewards of it, I wish I had done this years ago.”
Murphy hasn’t won a tournament since the 2011 Brazil Masters, but believes that he will soon get back to lifting trophies.
“I’ve been going through a tough time on the table,” admits the Sale-based cueman.
“There’s not much I can try other than good old fashioned hard work. I have improved the weaknesses in my game and I know that good things are just around the corner.”
Next Tuesday (January 14) at 1pm, Murphy faces a tough opening match in the Masters against Ding Junhui, who has won three ranking titles this season.
“Prize money-wise it is the second biggest tournament,” said the world number eight. “I didn’t have a great record in it until it moved to Ally Pally, and since then I’ve been runner-up and got to the semi-finals. I like the venue.”
The tournament runs from January 12 to 19 and also features the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, John Higgins and Judd Trump.
Tickets for the Masters are still on sale.
To book call 0871 620 7052 or visit www.worldsnooker.com/tickets.