Carter through to UK quarters
Updated: Wednesday, 05 Dec 2012 00:12
Ali Carter reached the World Championship final in May on a diet fuelled by carrot juice, but curry and beer could carry the Crohn's disease sufferer to UK glory in York.
The 33-year-old Essex man has been struggling to stay on top of his condition for the last decade, and has recently ditched pills due to the fear they would cause him long-term health problems.
However, Carter has no problem sinking pints, providing they are low in wheat and gluten, and mild curries go down a treat with the two-time Crucible runner-up.
Now he has the williamhill.com UK Championship title in his sights after knocking out world number one Judd Trump's conqueror Mark Joyce 6-2 today.
Former world champion Shaun Murphy, in-form Basildon potter Stuart Bingham and Welshman Matthew Stevens were also winners at the Barbican Centre as the quarter-final line-up began to take shape.
Going by the wayside and out of the tournament were a despondent Graeme Dott and his fellow Scot Stephen Maguire, along with Marco Fu.
"A curry and a lager, yeah. But I try to get in the gym and keep myself trim. I don't live on curry and lager, believe it or not" - Ali Carter
With a curry house just over the road from the tournament venue, Carter, a trim cueman who is also a keep-fit fanatic, does not need to look hard for a curry fix.
Inspired by Peter Ebdon, who has committed to a strict vegan diet in recent seasons, Carter downed glass after glass of carrot juice in Sheffield this year, and reported it had a hugely positive impact on his well-being.
"But I wouldn't necessarily go out and buy myself some carrots and stick it in a juicer," Carter said. "It was just something Peter was doing, I was part of it and we were all having a laugh and it was good.
"I've stopped red meat, which I like, dairy, wheat and gluten. When I'm at home I eat well, salads and fish. I eat curries if they're not too spicy and not too much cream, but it's just a nightmare.
"A curry and a lager, yeah. But I try to get in the gym and keep myself trim. I don't live on curry and lager, believe it or not."
Such an indulgence would make Carter sound like a caricature of an old-school snooker player, yet life on a busy sporting tour inevitably means he spends much of his year living out of a suitcase and eating in restaurants.
It makes dealing with Crohn's disease, which also afflicts Manchester United and Scotland midfielder Darren Fletcher and causes inflammation of the bowels, particularly difficult.
Carter thought about retiring a year ago, and said after seeing off Joyce: "I don't feel that well presently.
"I'm looking forward to better days to come with my stomach."
In the quarter-finals, Carter will tackle Bingham, who was terrific in seeing off Maguire 6-4 this evening, firstly going 4-2 ahead before being hauled back to 4-4 and then responding with a break of 120 followed by a match-clinching 54.
Bingham, due to marry fiancee Michelle at the end of the season, has taken the Australian Open and Premier League titles this year and amassed over £150,000 in prize money.
This is an outstanding opportunity to land silverware in one of snooker's premier events, and Bingham said: "A lot of my success has been overseas and to do it in the UK is massive.
"I'm very happy with my game. I came up against a really good opponent today and came through. I'm over the moon with the result."
Stevens was also a 6-4 winner, surviving a gruelling match against Hong Kong's Marco Fu.
Stevens, now 35, won the UK title in 2003 but had not reached the quarter-final stage again until now. He will face John Higgins or Mark Davis next.
He said: "I'll have to play a lot better than that if I'm to go any further."
Murphy impressed this evening in a 6-2 win over his fellow former world champion Dott.
The 30-year-old world number four had a total clearance of 130 in a victory that sets up a quarter-final against Mark King or 17-year-old Luca Brecel, who knocked out Ricky Walden last night.
Dott was dismayed by his own performance, with the 35-year-old Scot saying: "I just don't think I'm the same player I was. I don't think there's anyone else in the top 16 that can play as badly as I can play.
"It's not good enough."
Dott, Crucible champion in 2006, added: "Hopefully it's not just because of my age. I'd don't know if I've had it. Maybe I'm finished."
The Larkhall man was quick to stress that did not mean he would be retiring, adding: "Maybe it's just a bad patch but it doesn't feel that way."