Matthew Stevens: Hoping for a good run
Matthew Stevens hopes to build on his recent upturn in form at the Welsh Open and safeguard his place among the world's elite.The Welsh star reached the quarter-finals of last week's German Masters, beating Craig Steadman and Neil Robertson in Berlin, before losing to eventual winner Ronnie O'Sullivan.And the world No 14 from Carmarthen is hoping he can impress once again with a home crowd behind him at the world ranking event."I was really pleased with the way I played in Germany, especially to beat Neil Robertson 5-1 as he has been one of the best players in the world over the last few months," said former UK Champion Stevens. "I think that shows I can still beat anyone when I'm playing well."I was 3-1 up on Ronnie in the quarters but missed a couple of balls and he came back to win 5-3. That was disappointing but Ronnie is so good and he reels off frames in no time. I'm really looking forward to the Welsh now."The seeding cut-off point for the World Championship falls just after the event in Newport, and Stevens hopes he has already done enough to ensure his top 16 place, which would give him an automatic spot at the Crucible in April.Guaranteed"It's not guaranteed yet but it's almost certain, and if I win my first match there will be no doubt, so it's in my own hands," added the 34-year-old."I have had to qualify for the Crucible for the last few years and it can be horrible. It's such a tough match to play. Last year I beat Fergal O'Brien 10-9 on the final black and I wouldn't want to have to go through that again."It will be nice to know that I am guaranteed a place in Sheffield because it means I can look forward to the big one at the end of the season."O'Sullivan went on to win the event in Germany and now also looks likely to keep his top 16 place, which Stevens believes is good for the sport."The World Championship wouldn't be the same if Ronnie wasn't in it," added Stevens. "He was 4-0 down to Andrew Higginson in the first round last week but came back to win and showed how good he is."