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Page last updated at 21:31 GMT, Thursday, 15 April 2010 22:31 UK

Fordís new designs for the baize

World Snooker Championship
Date: 17 April-3 May Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
Coverage: Live coverage each day on BBC Two, BBC Red Button and BBC Sport website (UK only), updates on BBC Radio 5 Live. Full TV schedule

Tom Ford
Ford is looking to make up for lost time and impress on the baize in Sheffield

By Mark Ashenden

Tom Ford is about to grace the Crucible catwalk and there won't be a Gucci handbag or eight-inch heel in sight.

Forget the American fashion designer, this rising star is all about sedate black jackets, comfortable shoes and the netted pockets of a snooker table.

The 26-year-old may joke about having his own perfume brand, but fragrance will be far from his mind when he enters through the curtains on Saturday to make his long-awaited World Championship debut.

His first-round clash is against Mark Allen but it's the other Mark - Mark Selby - that is proving to be the driving force behind Ford's belated rise to fame in his 10th year as a pro.

"We grew up as kids together but he's been the one who's had dedication, he's worked hard and knuckled down," said Ford.

606: DEBATE
Steveo77

"It's not jealousy but watching him on TV has wound me up. It has made me think that if I had done what he had, then I could have been there as well."

Selby and Ford are old schoolmates from Leicester, they are the same age but their career paths couldn't be more different.

The pair learned their trade at Willie Thorne's snooker club from the age of eight under the guidance of Willie's brother Malcolm, and it was Ford who looked favourite to pick up Willie's mantle of Leicester's number one cueman.

Ford was Under-15 English champion in 1996, turned pro in 2000, beat Judd Trump a year later to become English Under-18 champion and then claimed his best ranking event placing in 2005 with a quarter-final spot in Malta.

Since then, a maximum 147 in a 2007 Grand Prix win over six-time world champion Steve Davis and a last-16 spot in Malta has been eclipsed by Selby's two Masters crowns, a 2008 Welsh Open title and an uninterrupted presence at the Crucible for the last five years.

Socialising has previously been top priority for Ford, but after a change in lifestyle, he's hoping to have the last laugh over the Jester from Leicester (as Selby is known).

TOM FORD'S FACTFILE
Born: 17 Aug 1983, Leicester
Turned professional: 2000
Favourite football team: Leicester City
Did you know?
Ford was hospitalised with gastroenteritis in 2007 but discharged himself early to play Steve Davis in the Grand Prix

"When you get texts on a Saturday night asking you to come out for a drink and you have to say you're staying in to watch a DVD, it's difficult," added the Leicester football fan.

"It's boring but when you're playing snooker for a living you can't be going out the weekend before a tournament. I've told friends I've got to sort myself out.

"That's why I've not done a great deal over the last few years. I had to give myself a full chance of doing what I do best. This year I've knuckled down and it seems to be paying off."

Ford admits that as he got older, his love affair with snooker dwindled and that practising became a chore.

"My mind gets distracted and starts wandering," he said. "I enjoyed tournaments, just struggled to practice. It felt like hard work and my attention span's not the greatest."

They do not seem to be the words of a champion in the making.

But with reinvigorated ambition to win silverware, earn enough money for retirement and step out of the shadows of old rivals, dedication and discipline are helping Ford to reinvent himself.

With time on the practice table increased from two hours a day to five, plus weekends, along with coach Stephen Feeney assisting with sighting the ball, results this season support his claim he is in the form of his life.

Although he lost in the opening rounds of the UK Championships and Welsh Open, Ford has reached the final stages of three of the six ranking tournaments.

"I've started to believe in myself and playing well again," he stated. "I'm playing like when I was 17 and if I can perform as well as I can do it's possible to reach the final."

Ford's current provisional ranking has risen to 43 (his previous highest is 48) and he heads to Sheffield preparing for Northern Ireland's Allen - ranked 11th and the same player who beat him at the first hurdle at Newport in January.

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"It's not a bad draw," conceded Ford. "I'm an attacking player as well and would have got fed up against a slower player. I do like playing the better players."

Despite confessing that he did not know what to fully expect at the Crucible, Ford - who keeps fit by playing football - has no concerns with nerves or the physical and mental demands of a 17-day event.

The calmness could also be attributed to a first visit to the famous arena aged six when he was accompanied by Thorne to see Canada's 1980 world champion Cliff Thorburn - notorious for his slow play.

"It wasn't the greatest game to watch at that age," said Ford. "I've also seen Selby play but this time it will be weird to have my cue with me."

Having a name synonymous with fashion and a dad who cuts hair for a living, will the Crucible crowd be dazzled by someone playing the biggest match in their professional career?

"That winds me up," insisted Ford. "You see someone get on TV and they do something stupid.

"They're just trying to be someone else. I say be yourself and do what you do."



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see also
O'Sullivan handed tricky opener
11 Mar 10 |  Snooker
Hearn must be backed - O'Sullivan
07 Apr 10 |  Snooker
Hearn warns players of mediocrity
12 Mar 10 |  Snooker
Williams beats Ding to win final
04 Apr 10 |  Snooker
Barry Hearn Q&A
04 Apr 10 |  Snooker
Final scores from the Crucible
20 Apr 10 |  Snooker
Snooker on the BBC
08 Apr 11 |  Snooker


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