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Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 19:07 GMT
Favourites clinch Telford wins
Peter Ebdon
Ebdon has been practising with Matthew Stevens

Peter Ebdon beat Malta's Tony Drago to reach the last 16 of the 450,000 British Open in Telford.

The world champion defeated Drago 5-3 to for his first victory since being crowned Crucible king at the end of last season.

Drago made an impressive start and raced into a 2-0 lead, but Ebdon hit back with an 85 break in the third frame.

His run of 73 in the eighth frame clinched the match and set up a third-round contest with Alan McManus, the runner-up in last month's LG Cup.

Matthew Stevens also won his first match of the season, beating Hong Kong's Marco Fu 5-2 to book a place in the last 16.

The Welshman had lost his first match in this year's Regal Masters and LG Cup, but breaks of 82 and 100 moved him 4-1 ahead and Fu could not recover.


There was extra pressure on me after losing my first two matches and I got nervous towards the end
Matthew Stevens

Stevens revealed that practising with Ebdon had helped him with his confidence.

"There was extra pressure on me after losing my first two matches and I got nervous towards the end," Stevens said.

"I felt good coming here after practising with Peter for two days.

"It sharpened me up a bit and took some of the pressure off."

John Higgins was another of the leading names to make it through, cruising to a 5-1 win over Ireland's Fergal O'Brien.

The only surprise loser was world number five Ken Doherty, who went down 5-4 to LG Cup champion Chris Small.

Doherty has now lost his first three matches of the new season.

"I had chances to win but it was a very long, hard match," he said. "It's a tough time but I'll keep battling on."


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