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Last Updated: Friday, 15 April, 2005, 07:32 GMT 08:32 UK
Stevens out to end Crucible jinx
World number six Matthew Stevens
Matthew Stevens says he is determined to shed his "nearly-man" tag at the World Snooker Championship.

"In 2000, I was only 22 and I had a chance of winning the world title, but I blew that," he said of his 18-16 final loss to compatriot Mark Williams.

"I've had three semi-final defeats since then too so I'm the nearly-man of the Crucible, but hopefully I can put that right before I finish playing.

"That's my aim - to win the World Championship before I retire."

The Welshman's latest Crucible heartache came 12 months ago in an epic semi-final loss to Graeme Dott.

Stevens fought back to 15-15 before Dott won the next two frames to set up a final with eventual winner Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Two years earlier, the 27-year-old had lost his semi-final by a single frame to Peter Ebdon.

Andy's beaten me once this season and I don't think I've ever beaten him to be honest
Matthew Stevens on first round opponent Andy Hicks

And that defeat followed his first semi-final defeat to John Higgins (17-15) a year earlier.

But despite regularly making the latter stages at the Crucible Theatre, current form suggests Stevens will struggle to test the leading contenders this year.

Before January's first round win over Shaun Murphy in the Malta Cup, Stevens had gone 15 months without winning a best-of-nine frame match.

"I didn't start off the season too well. I lost four first-round matches, which wasn't great," said the sixth seed.

"But I got to the final of the Irish Masters [last month] where I lost to Ronnie O'Sullivan 10-8; and in Malta I got to the semi-finals.

"And now it's the World Championships, it's the one we all want deep down and I'm actually starting to play a little bit better.

"I'm putting a lot more work in in practice, so it's not looking too bad."

First up for Stevens in Sheffield is Andy Hicks on Saturday.

"Andy's beaten me once this season and I don't think I've ever beaten him to be honest," added Stevens.

"He beat me in the World Championships 10 or 11 years ago in a qualifying round.

"He's a great player and I'm looking forward to the match."

Stevens praises gritty Dott
01 May 04 |  Snooker

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