Snooker: Stevens shows no fear in defeat of O'Sullivan

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MATTHEW STEVENS enjoyed a spellbinding 9-3 victory over Ronnie O'Sullivan in the quarter-finals of the Liverpool Victoria UK Championship in Bournemouth yesterday. The Welsh world No 9 joined the world champion, Stephen Hendry, in the semi-finals, reeling off four frames without reply after resuming with a 5-3 overnight advantage. And he produced a standard of snooker of which the game's elite would have been proud.

O'Sullivan, his dream of a third UK title ruined for another 12 months, did not pot a ball in the final two frames. He scored just 53 points in a truncated 57-minute final session. Stevens began modestly enough with a break of 50 but knocked in a 61 to lead 7-3, before putting together further breaks of 138 and 61.

"I have not won enough tournaments to be considered alongside the likes of Hendry and John Higgins," the 22-year-old Welshman said. "But I'm only 22 and maybe in a couple of years I will be able to prove myself. I'm certainly not frightened of the top players because I've beaten most of them."

He has now defeated O'Sullivan twice in a row, after his success at the same stage of the Regal Masters in Motherwell six weeks ago. Stevens went on to win the title - his first major victory - and is now only two victories away from breaking his duck in ranking tournaments. "I enjoy playing Ronnie because it feels like a practice match," he said. "He always goes for his shots and that suits me, because I'm naturally an attacking player."