Matthew Stevens set up a tasty encounter with Ronnie O’Sullivan by toppling fellow Welshman Mark Williams, while Ali Carter squares off with Neil Robertson
‘The Welsh Dragon’ Matthew Stevens emphatically overcame fellow countryman Mark Williams 10-2 in his first round matchup at the Crucible, setting up a tantalising encounter with five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Clinical cueist Stevens was beaten by his good friend and baize counterpart Williams in the World Championship final in 2000, but he gained revenge to line up a tasty clash with ‘the Rocket’ in Sheffield’s prestigious event.
The two-time Crucible runner-up is a best priced 6/1 with Bet365 to tame O’Sullivan in their second round meeting, with his prolific potting opposition a massive 1/8 favourite with Boylesports to reach the next stage.
Stevens’ progression is made even more impressive considering he came into the tournament unseeded, having come through three gruelling qualifying rounds to make it, and he declared his off-the-baize happiness a key reason behind his resurgent form.
“I feel comfortable and good in myself which I haven’t done for a number of years,” said Stevens. “I am a lot happier in my personal life and that helps.”
The world number 35, was declared bankrupt earlier this year and has had other personnel problems to deal with, but is now reaping the rewards of his revived preparation for events.
Although, despite his overturn in form and fortunes, Stevens is fully aware that he is still second favourite in the next stage meeting with ‘the Rocket’.
“I’m not going to lie to you, I’m second favourite. I’m not expected to win but who knows. If I can play well hopefully I’ll give him a good game,” continued Stevens.
Elsewhere, world number three Neil Robertson will contest the returning Ali Carter in the other second round encounter, with the Australian 2010 world champion available at 40/85 with Boylesports to secure the highest break of this match.
The 10-time ranking event winner has talked up his recent switch to a vegan diet, stating that it has put him in the best shape of his life.
“I haven’t prepared as well for a World Championship, or any tournament, as I have for this one,” said Robertson.
“I used to feel very tired during tournaments. I was drinking four or five coffees per day and felt I needed more. Now I’m able to practice an awful lot more without getting tired.”
His opponent ‘the Captain’ is available at 11/4 with Sky Bet to emerge victorious in a repeat of the 2010 World Championship semi-final, which Robertson won.