Mark Selby believes he is better equipped to defy the external pressures which afflicted his previous reign as world snooker champion and go on to dominate the sport.
Selby won his fourth Crucible title on Monday night, with his 18-15 victory over Shaun Murphy moving him level with John Higgins on the all-time list of multiple winners.
The 37-year-old’s previous world crown in 2017 hastened a remarkable decline in form which saw him fail to win a British-based ranking event in the subsequent two and a half years.
But under the guidance of coach Chris Henry, Selby appears to have emerged stronger for the experience and has vowed not to rest until he has reclaimed the world number one ranking from Judd Trump.
Selby said: “It’s been my aim since I lost the world number one spot to win it back, which I know will be difficult because Judd is playing some unbelievable stuff.
“He’s been miles in front of everyone, and it’s going to be tough for me to come back and defend the points I’ve won this year, but I definitely feel in a much better place.
“Working with Chris off the table has helped me a huge amount. I was getting a bit fragile over the last few years doubting myself, and he’s put that to bed.
“I’m back to believing in myself again and obviously you can’t win this tournament if you’re doubting yourself.”
In a series of candid interviews earlier this year, Selby revealed he had suicidal thoughts as a teenager following the death of his father David to cancer in 1999.
It contributed to his dramatic collapse in form in which he slumped from a seemingly unassailable position at the top of the world rankings, and crashed out in the first round the following year.
Having struggled at times to hold the past at bay, Selby said his latest world title win was a tribute to all those who had stood by him and helped him get his life and career back on track.
“My past always flares up now and again and with snooker you have so many highs and lows,” Selby added.
“When I was struggling and having the lows from snooker, all the other bad thoughts came back as well, and having my close friends and family around me telling me to dig in helped matters.
“At times you don’t always think you’re going to pick yourself back up, but thankfully they stood by me and here I am today.”
Selby’s brand of tough, no-nonsense snooker had made him seem a virtual certainty to climb the list of multiple winners at the famous venue.
And inevitably, the manner of his resurgence has raised the prospect of him chasing the likes of six-time winners Steve Davis and Ronnie O’Sullivan, and even Stephen Hendry on a record seven.
“To win three was unbelievable, and to now equal somebody like John Higgins, who is one of the all-time greats, is beyond my wildest dreams,” added Selby.
“If you’d said to me when I was a young lad starting out that I’d be 37 years old with four world titles, I’d probably have laughed at you.
“But I’m not getting any younger and I’ve still got a long way to go to catch Stephen. You look at how good Ronnie is and he is still one behind, but I’m still in there with a chance.”
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