Stevens – “I need One Good Week”

Snooker's Welsh Dragon Matthew Stevens believes that one good week will be the difference between him regaining his place among snooker's top 16 and spending another year outside the elite.
The Carmarthen ace is looking forward to next week's Welsh Open in Newport and hopes to pick up valuable points in the world ranking tournament. Stevens dropped out of the top 16 three years ago and currently stands 20th on the provisional list.

“That's the big goal for me this season, to get back into the top 16,” said the 32-year-old, who won the Masters in 2000 and the UK Championship in 2003. “I'm a fair bit behind at the moment, but all it takes is one good week. Look at Liang Wenbo – he got to the final in Shanghai and he jumped up from 27th to 13th. I just need one good run.

“I've won all of my qualifying matches so far this season, but in the last two tournaments I've played Ding Junhui and Ronnie O'Sullivan in the first round at the venue. That shows how tough it is when you are outside the top 16 and why it's important for me to get back there.”

Stevens has been spared a trip to Prestatyn this week as his qualifying match has been held over to the venue and will take place at the Newport Centre on Monday at 1pm.

“It is an advantage to be starting off at the venue, hopefully in front of a good crowd supporting me,” added Stevens. “I've never done well in the Welsh Open – I got to the quarter-finals once but otherwise I've done nothing. My practice has been going really well and I'm looking forward to next week so maybe this will be the one.”

Stevens, Mark Williams and Ryan Day will lead the home charge in the tournament which runs from January 25 to 31. Also battling for the title will be the likes of Ronnie O'Sullivan, John Higgins, Mark Selby, Stephen Hendry and defending champion Ali Carter.

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