Monday, 21 March 2011

Crucible draw: Matthew Stevens EXCLUSIVE reaction

Matthew Stevens was busy playing in the Championship League group seven when he was drawn to play against Mark Allen at the Crucible.

After finishing off at Wembley, I made the trip across to Essex to find out his thoughts.

Here's what he had to say...

What are your initial reactions to your draw?

Yeah it's a tough one against Mark Allen but in all fairness it doesn't really make a difference who you play because there's so many good players.

I think the obvious one you want to avoid is John Higgins. He's won more or less everything he's played in since he's been back. I didn't want to play Mark Williams either because we're mates as well, but as it happens Ryan Day's playing him in the first round so it's two mates playing each other. That's a shame but that's the way it goes sometimes. I'm quite pleased I'm playing a bit later on in the tournament though. That's nice.

You had quite a gruelling qualifer against Fergal O'Brien to make it. That must have worried you...

Yeah I shouldn't have even been in the hat for the World Championship. I was 58 points behind with 59 on the table in the decider and just managed to pinch it on the black. I should be out of the tournament but I've been given a second chance.

It's just nice to be there. I've watched the last few shots back on video of that match and I get sweaty palms just watching it back to be honest. I lost the year before on a decider to Marcus Campbell the year before as well so it's become a bit of annual tradition but I don't want too many more of them to be honest.

How are you feeling about your game?

Yeah I'm playing a lot of snooker and feel pretty good. I'm spending a couple of days at Crondon Park again this week then off to China on Saturday. I don't feel on the top of my game but I'm getting there slowly. I got to the semi-finals in the PTC finals. I feel like I can compete again at the top level. I just want to improve even more for the World Championship. That's always my aim, to have a good run there.

No matter what changes snooker has, it's still the big one isn't it...

Yeah of course. It's extra special being played at the Crucible. I've had a few good runs there and hopefully I can give it a bash a few more times.

You've got a good record in all the long format tournaments really...

Not for a few years though. I haven't had a good run at the UK or World for quite a few years so it would be nice to get that right this year.

You've been rising up the rankings again. What do you put that down to?

I think everyone has a little bad run in their career. I've had quite a few years struggling with confidence but with more tournaments to play in, there's not so much pressure. If you lose a match now, you only have to wait a week to put it right, whereas before you could have a couple of months off.

I slipped down into the 20s but I'm back now into the top 16 again provisionally. A couple of good runs in China and Sheffield and I'll retain that. I think I've still got a few more years in me.

You must have fond memories of the Crucible as a two-time finalist. Tell me about those...

I try not to remember a lot of them to be honest. It's a nice occasion to get there but I lost two close ones. It was disappointing but not many people can say they've been to world finals though. I'm proud of that.

Can you win it this year?

I think so yes. I wouldn't bother playing if I didn't think I could compete with the top guys. I'm still not at my best yet but I'm going in the right direction. It's been easier because I've played about 50 matches this season which becomes your practice.

1 comment:

  1. Good to see Matt back at the crucible, he is a top 8 player when playing his A game.
    Good luck Matthew....