Snooker star Ali Carter used Whitney Houston as inspiration to claim his first ranking title in seven years at the German Masters.
Carter stormed to a dominant 10-3 victory over Tom Ford at the Tempodrom in Berlin on Sunday. The 43-year-old had fallen 2-0 behind to Leicester's Ford but won six straight frames in the first session before reeling off four in a row in the evening to clinch victory in one of the sport's great arenas.
The Captain made a dream return to the winners circle as he delivered in the pressure cauldron of an unlikely showpiece final with eight half-centuries and a century break.
It was Carter's first ranking win since the Yushan World Open in 2016 and the title lifts him back into the coveted top 16 in the world. Twice a world finalist, Carter has long been in and around the world's elite but this triumph was particularly special given his long wait for silverware.
And he has now explained how his approach for Sunday's final was influenced by a famous single from the late American singing icon Houston.
"The journey of getting through the day, all you can see is getting to 10 [frames] seeming like an absolute mile away," Carter told World Snooker. "But you get to 10 by getting to one, to two, to three. I said: 'Just stay in the moment, forget 10, just break it all down into little bits, and step by step.'
"I heard Step by Step by Whitney Houston and it was quite a memorable song, and I just thought 'yeah, step by step, day by day' and I've got there. The last two or three months I have dreamt three or four times that I’ve won a tournament, and when I’ve woken up I’ve been absolutely distraught because it was a dream!”
Carter overpowered the ever-improving Ford, who was competing in his first ranking final and is also edging closer to the top 16. And he was thrilled to move up eight places to 15th in the rankings, a decade on from winning his first German Masters trophy in 2013.
"When you play the game as long as I have, you think it won't happen again, but you have to keep believing," he added.
“I am really proud of the way I played today. I put Tom under a lot of pressure. I just tried to keep the pressure on as much as I could. I am delighted to be in the winners’ circle again."