Thursday, 18 August 2011

Shining Stevens stomps to Skegness win

Matthew Stevens put on a real show for Lincolnshire's Skegness crowd - as he kicked off the new Premier League campaign with a bang.

The Welshman has retained his popular status within the sport despite a dip down the rankings in recent years.

And it's easy to see why after a shining display in front of the Sky cameras.

Winning qualification for this season's tournament through the gruelling Championship League, tonight he proved he still belongs with the big boys. A 3-0 semi-final win against Neil Robertson saw him gather momentum before he followed it up with another whitewash against John Higgins in the final.

Six frames without reply means he's off to a flying start, where his performance was as impressive as his flawless results.

While some players tend to fluster under the shot-clock format, Stevens seems to blossom under it.

He played by his instincts and in turn produced the kind of polished and assured performance that could see him go a long way in this tournament and mount a serious championship charge.

Stevens has always been a cool customer. He showed that asset in abundance again tonight, taking advantage of two players who will admit finding the format difficult. Never afraid to take on bold pots, Matthew was swift in his shot selection and need never look back.

A lot of the build-up to tonight's action revolved around changes to the competition this season, but with no matches going the distance, the Shoot-Out style deciding frame didn't come into play.

A 20-second shot clock instead of 25 kept the play punchy, and as imagined, the knockout style gave punters real value for money.

There can be no quibbles about whether Stevens was a deserved winner tonight, as he was streets ahead of his rivals. With only four nights to play each, opening whitewash defeats mean Jimmy White and Robertson are automatically under pressure.

For Stevens, he can enjoy the moment. It's great to see such a terrific talent in a rich vein of form.

The Premier League is back.

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