Ronnie O'Sullivan believes he might just be rediscovering the champion mindset after consecutive deciding-frame victories at the Scottish Open.
The 46-year-old edged out Jamie Jones 4-3 in Llandudno with a final-frame 66, to move into the quarter-finals.
The six-time world champion punched the table in frustration when losing position in the third frame, but kept his composure to see off the impressive Jones.
O’Sullivan had inched past Liang Wenbo by the same score in the round of 32 on Wednesday, and was left to reflect on the hint of a return to his razor-sharp winner’s mentality.
The 2020 world champion even dropped in a cute reference to next year’s global battle at the Crucible, in a sharp reminder to the rest of the field of his credentials.
"Listen, it’s funny snooker: one tournament, one victory, like in 2011, 2012, just one win and I was away for five or six years," O’Sullivan told Eurosport.
"Snooker can be like that. I’m patient now, if it doesn’t happen this week or next week, it might happen at Sheffield, who knows?
"Maybe two months ago I would just have tried to clear up and maybe missed. But when you’re mentally there it can be different.
"I set myself on every shot and was giving it 100%. If you’re going to win deciders and tournaments you’ve got to get into that mindset.
"I was playing exhibition snooker for a couple of years to be honest, and then Covid happened, it gave me a chance and I’m feeling good."
Eurosport studio guest Jimmy White reacted to O’Sullivan’s wry take on his own mental approach by declaring "that means he fancies it!" in reference to next year’s World Championship.
O’Sullivan’s night was never likely to be issue-free, in a week when he insisted he would not allow his son to play on the world tour given snooker’s overall state.
That stance was branded a "disgrace" by John Higgins, leading O’Sullivan on Wednesday to promise to stay out of controversial debates.
The Rocket’s emotions ran away from him when punching the table in the third frame, which he later revealed was down to pure frustration.
Jones had fired a break of 94 to take the tie into a decider, leaving O’Sullivan suitably impressed by the world number 44.
"You’re just so frustrated when things like that happen, but it was great out there," said O’Sullivan.
"He played the better snooker tonight just experience maybe won through.
"I made a few mistakes, but I’m trying. I was hanging on in there. You’re watching such good snooker from all the others and you’re trying to play your own game; it’s great."
Earlier, Dubliner Fergal O'Brien was beaten 4-1 by UK Championship runner-up Luca Brecel.