MATTHEW Stevens is through to the Haikou World Open final after coming back from behind to defeat Neil Robertson in a gripping semi-final.
Today’s win ensured the Welshman will make his first appearance in a major ranking final since the Bahrain Championship back in November 2008. Before that you have to go back to the World Championship final in 2005 when he lost to Shaun Murphy.
And to get to the final Stevens did it the hard way – coming back from 5-4 down and winning the remaining two frames as the opportunity to win another ranking title slipped through Robertson’s grasp.
After the first four frames were shared going into the interval, the match continued to flow in its topsy-turvy nature.
Robertson nudged 3-2 ahead by winning the first frame after the interval. But Stevens levelled with a break of 79 after the 2010 World Open winner made a surprising miss while in the balls. Stevens then won frame seven to go 4-3 ahead.
The Australian responded brilliantly with a break of 107 before he moved to a single frame from victory winning a re-spotted black despite handing his opponent three decent chances to pot it.
Stevens refused to let that incident get the better of him and he responded when he needed as a break of 60 helped him to take the semi-final into a deciding frame shootout.
And the 2003 UK Championship winner then dominated the final frame and sealed one of his biggest wins in recent times with a break of 51.
On a different note, questions may have to be asked over why there has been such a low crowd during this week’s tournament. As throughout the week, the semi-final was played in front of many empty seats – an issue which has received much criticism from fans and those inside the game on Twitter and internet forums.