Snooker: Stevens thrilled by first ranking title after nine years

Matthew Stevens finally ended the blackest spell of his career by winning the UK Championship in York on Sunday night. The Welshman denied Stephen Hendry a record-equalling sixth UK crown with a thrilling 10-8 win before a packed Barbican Centre crowd.

It was his first ranking title nine years into a professional career that promised much but until last night remained unfulfilled. "If I don't win another one, they won't be able to take my name off the trophy," said Stevens, who is set to become a father for the first time over Christmas. "It is the second-biggest ranking tournament and I am proud to have won it."

The 26-year-old world No 9 from Carmarthen admits he "went off the rails" after his father died in February 2001.

"Snooker didn't mean anything to me," said Stevens, who had to battle back from 4-0 and 7-5 down to take the title. "I would just turn up and play. It was hard, though, watching the other players getting the glory even though they deserved it.

"Now, I am just enjoying the game and I am putting it into perspective. This win is the icing on the cake, and with the baby on the way we are going to have a fantastic Christmas."

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