Stevens has Wembley in his sights

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Snooker

Matthew Stevens put last year's Benson and Hedges Championship semi- final defeat behind him last night when he took the title in Edinburgh. The 18-year-old overwhelmed Paul McPhillips 9-3 to claim the pounds 5,000 first prize and a trip to Wembley next February for the Benson and Hedges Masters.

Fittingly, he rounded off a memorable nine days with a clearance of 122 to clinch the trophy. "I am thrilled to have won my first major title so early in my career," said Stevens, who has moved to 57th on the provisional world rankings from a starting point this season of 236.

Stevens, from Carmarthen, was never in trouble after a ferocious first session in which he clinched six of the opening seven frames. McPhillips, the world No 64 from Glasgow, won two of the first three frames of the final session, but the Scot admitted: "There was too much of a leeway to make up. Matthew is a great player and in a couple of years could easily get into the top 16."

Stevens, who meets Steve James in the UK Championship later this week, will face Terry Griffiths on his Wembley debut in the new year. He said: "I have known I've got the ability to win tournaments, it's just a question of getting some consistency in my game."

BENSON AND HEDGES CHAMPIONSHIP (Edinburgh) Final: M Stevens (Wal) bt P McPhillips (Sco) 9-3. Frame scores (Stevens first): 68-67 68-22 114- 7 88-43 77-1 66-55 3-54 14-66 81-33 39-72 96-27 129 (122 break)-0.

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