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Matthew Stevens defeats Shaun Murphy in Welsh Open

THE WELSH OPEN
Venue: The Newport Centre, Newport Date: 14-20 February
Coverage: Live on BBC Two Wales and British Eurosport; results and reports on BBC Sport website


Matthew Stevens
Stevens beat Hendry in the final of the 2003 UK Championship

Matthew Stevens delighted the home crowd with a superb 4-0 win against world number six Shaun Murphy in the first round of the Welsh Open.

The 33-year-old, now 21st in the world, who lost to Murphy in the 2005 world final, had a 133 break in frame two.

Stephen Hendry ensured his place in this year's World Championships with a 4-0 opening round win over Joe Perry.

In a second round match, defending champion John Higgins fired a 136 break en route to a 4-1 win over Dave Harold.

Higgins, who also won the Welsh title in 2000, demonstrated his fighting qualities by coming from 54 points down and securing a snooker to seal his victory.

Meanwhile, Hendry, who won the inaugural event in 1992, made sure of a World Championship appearance this year as he is certain to remain in the top 16 at this end of this tournament, which is the cut-off point for automatic places at the Crucible.

"I think it was more or less certain before this event, but it's nice to know it's mathematically impossible for me to drop out now," said Hendry on worldsnooker.com.

"I would have been gutted if I'd had to qualify for Sheffield, it would have been a kick in the teeth and damaging to my pride."

The 42-year-old, currently ranked 13th, is without ranking title since the 2005 Malta Cup but recorded breaks of 61 and 57 in the first frame and finished with a 78 in Newport.

"If you make a nice break in the first frame it always settles you down especially in these short matches," he said.

"I'll take one match at at time but I'm certainly feeling quite good about my game and feel like I can score quite heavily."

In round two Hendry will play fellow Scot Stephen Maguire after he defeated Gerard Greene 4-2.

Wednesday's evening matches will see Ronnie O'Sullivan against Welshman Ryan Day and Mark Selby face gritty Essex left-hander Mark King.



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see also
Williams crushes Fu in Welsh Open
15 Feb 11 |  Snooker
Higgins overcomes Lisowski test
14 Feb 11 |  Snooker


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