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The BBC's Clive Everton
"It was hard matchplay snooker today"
 real 28k

Saturday, 29 April, 2000, 18:47 GMT 19:47 UK
Stevens reaches Crucible final

Swail looks away as Stevens moves closer to victory
Matthew Stevens kept cool over a scrappy last few frames to complete a 17-12 victory over Joe Swail in the semi-final of snooker's World Championship.

Stevens resumed 13-11 ahead of Swail, who had battled back well in the previous session to keep his fading hopes alive.

The pair traded the first two frames of the afternoon as Welshman Stevens retained his two-frame lead.

In a pivotal third frame of the day they both traded vital misses, Swail failing to land a blue from tight on the cushion and Stevens missing a fairly straightforward yellow.

But it was Stevens who held on to pinch the frame.

And he produced the cooler play in the closing stages to win the next two frames and secure his first appearance in the final.

Pressure play

Stevens was delighted to have claimed his place in the final, but admitted the last session "wasn't pretty to watch".


Swail
Swail put up a huge fight - but it was not enough
Stevens, who has been so fluent over the past two weeks at the Crucible, said: "I'm glad to get through, because I felt tense out there. Joe made it very hard for me.

"I'm pleased with my performance under pressure and with my shot selection.

"It wasn't spectacular, but those small breaks at the end did more damage than the big ones earlier in the match."

Confidence-booster

A drained Swail has a 70,000 cheque to console himself with after his amazing run was ended at the last-four stage.

The qualifier from Northern Ireland, who had shown himself capable of great comebacks earlier in the tournament, found there was nothing left this time as Stevens closed in on the finishing line.

"For some reason, I just couldn't get motivated," Swail said. "Maybe it's because I've never been this far.

"I'm not complaining - it's been a wonderful experience. It is unreal the confidence this has all given me."

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See also:

28 Apr 00 | Sport
Swail makes Stevens sweat
26 Apr 00 | Sport
World Snooker results
26 Apr 00 | Sport
White sunk by on-song Stevens
24 Apr 00 | Sport
Higgins battles past Davis
19 Apr 00 | Sport
'Slow' Davis creeps through
16 Apr 00 | Sport
Hendry in shock defeat
Links to other Sport stories are at the foot of the page.