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  Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
A great final, a fine champion
Peter Ebdon, the 2002 World Snooker Champion
Ebdon was able to keep his emotions in check

What a thrilling final - memories of 1985, when my final against Dennis Taylor went to a deciding frame, came flooding back.

And having been there myself, you can forgive anybody for missing anything in those final stages.

The Embassy World Snooker final is the modern day equivalent of the gladiator pit.

But Peter Ebdon is one of the bravest snooker players you are ever likely to come up against.

I think people warmed to him this year and he won a lot of friends for the control he showed.

And he is certainly the type of person you want as a spokesman for the game.

Stephen Hendry
Hendry re-established himself as a real threat
All in all this year, I think it was almost certainly the highest standard we have ever seen, and probably the most exciting too.

And with so many players out there capable of winning the big events, the game is more competitive now than it has been for a long time.

There are only five players who have won more than one world title since the 1970s.

But if there is someone to break The Crucible curse and win it again next year, Peter is the one to do it because he has great resolve - and he will get better.

If you get that confirmation that you can do it, sometimes it acts as a springboard to another level.

It reminds me a bit of golfer Retief Goosen, who missed a putt to win the US Open on the last green last year.

But he pulled himself together, won the play-off, and has gone from being one of the also-rans in the game to one of the great winners.

Sympathy for Hendry

Of course, nobody can really know for sure how Peter will react to his new status in the game - some people have crumbled.

But knowing Peter, and listening to what he had to say after his victory, he will cope fine.

And he was still totally sober when I spoke to him in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, which is something I do not remember from any other world champion.

But there are a lot of great players currently playing the game, which is healthy, so he will be up against some very stiff competition next year.

On the evidence of this tournament, Stephen Hendry can definitely win his eighth title, as he has re-established himself as a major threat to anyone in the game.

Many had written him off, and he had slipped a few places in the bookies' pecking order, but all of a sudden he popped up and produced some astonishing snooker.

And there were quite a few people out there who felt a lot of sympathy for Stephen because he came so close.

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 ON THIS STORY
Former World Champion Steve Davies
"Ebdon is one of the bravest players"

Embassy final

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