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Last Updated: Monday, 1 December, 2003, 15:39 GMT
Reardon hails Stevens' win
Matthew Stevens
Six-time world champion Ray Reardon says that Matthew Stevens' UK Championship win keeps Welsh snooker at the top of the world game.

But the Tredegar potting legend admits he was surprised to see Stevens fight back to claim his first ranking title in a thrilling final against Stephen Hendry.

"I didn't expect him (Stevens) to come back from 4-0 down to lead 5-4, then he went 7-5 down and I thought, 'Oh dear'," Reardon told BBC Sport Wales.

"But he did it and I'm very pleased for him and his family, they deserve it. I loved it and it was a great triumph for Wales."

Six-time world snooker champion Ray Reardon
Wales has always been a hotbed of snooker talent
Ray Reardon
Reardon said Stevens has emerged from a fertile snooker-talent producing area in south Wales.

"We've produced soom good players there over the years," said Reardon.

"Terry Griffiths, current world champion Mark Williams, Doug Mountjoy - and I won a few myself!

"Now there are two Welshmen holding the two major titles in world snooker.

"It's always been a hotbed of talent and this will only encourage more young players to come through.

"There are successful leagues in Wales filled with competitive, top-class players - it's like the old rugby outside-half factory!"

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