To meet The Snooker Wiki's quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. Please help by improving the article.
|Born||11 September 1977|
|Nickname||The Welsh Dragon|
|Highest ranking||#4 (2005/06)|
|Highest break||145 (1996), (2001)|
Matthew Stevens (born 11 September 1977, Carmarthen, Wales) is a Welsh professional snooker player. Turning professional in 1994, Stevens has won two of the game's most prestigious events, the Benson and Hedges Masters in 2000 and the UK Snooker Championship in 2003. He has also been the runner-up in the World Snooker Championship on two occasions, in 2000 and 2005. Stevens reached a career high ranking of #4 for the 2005/2006 season, but is currently ranked outside of the elite top 16.
Stevens made his first breakthrough in the 1997/1998 season, reaching the semi-finals of both the 1997 Grand Prix and Liverpool Victoria UK Championship, and the quarter-finals on his debut in the Crucible stage of the World Championship. In late 1998 he reached his first final at the UK Championship, before losing 10-6 to John Higgins.
Stevens has won two major titles. In 2000, he won the prestigious Benson & Hedges Masters, beating Ken Doherty 10-8 in the final. This remained the highlight of his career until his first, and so far only, ranking tournament success came in 2003. Stevens won the UK Championship after beating Stephen Hendry 10-8 in the final. He trailed Hendry 4-0, but remarkably he reeled off the next five frames. Hendry found his form again to lead 7-5, but Stevens was not to be denied and clinched a 10-8 victory, which remains the only ranking tournament victory of his career. However, he followed this with a run of nine successive first round defeats in best-of-nine matches, only interrupted by a good run in the 2004 World Championship.
Stevens has never won the World Snooker Championship but has played in two finals. In 2000 he reached the final but lost 16-18 to Mark Williams after having been up 10-6, 13-7 and then 14-10 with only the final session to play. Stevens became only the second player in the history of the world championship to lose in the final from holding a 4 frame overnight lead. In 2005 he was again runner-up, losing 16-18 to Shaun Murphy in the final, having been up 10-6 and then 12-11 with only the final session to play. Again Stevens relinquished a 4 frame overnight lead to lose in the final, only the third time this has ever happened. This defeat was all the more painful as Stevens had been widely considered as the player of the tournament.
He has also been a beaten semi-finalist on three occasions in 2001, 2002 and 2004. In 2002 he looked certain to have won a place in the final leading Peter Ebdon 16-14 in their semi final tie, and just needed a relatively simple red in the 31st frame to leave his opponent needing snookers. Stevens missed the pot and Ebdon made a famous clearance to win the frame, and went on to take the next two to win the match.
In 2007 he lost 12-13 to Murphy in the quarter finals having led 11-5 and 12-7, making him the first person to ever lose a best of 25 match from leading 12-7. The defeat left him ranked outside of the top 16 for the first time in 8 years. In 2008 he was defeated in the first round of the world championship for the first time in his career by defending champion John Higgins, and he finished ranked outside the top 16 for the second consecutive season. The only highlight of the 2008/09 season was a run to the final of the Bahrain Championship, in which the unavailability of three leading players gave him a top sixteen seeding. He only reached the last sixteen of one other event, and failed to qualify for the World Championship after a defeat to Martin Gould. He finished the season with a drop of nine places to #26.
Stevens enjoyed a solid 2009/2010 season, and currently has a provisional ranking of 21. Stevens qualified for the Welsh Open by beating Barry Pinches 5-4. In the first round, he caused an upset by defeating Shaun Murphy in a final frame decider. He faced Northern Ireland's Mark Allen in round two, and despite making two century breaks he lost the match 5-2. Stevens also lost a tight match by one frame in the 2010 World Championship qualifiers, and thus did not make it to The Crucible.
Stevens is known as a good breakbuilder, and has compiled over 150 competitive centuries during his career.