x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Stevens battles back in final

Matthew Stevens clawed his way back into the Bahrain Championship after losing the first three frames to Neil Robertson.

MANAMA // The Welshman Matthew Stevens battled back gamely from three frames down to stay in with a wonderful chance of winning the inaugural Bahrain Championship at the International Conference. His opponent in the best-of-17 final, Neil Robertson, appeared to have Stevens on the ropes when, within just a little over 40 minutes, he opened up what looked like a comfortable lead with breaks of 129, 117 and 96. It looked as if Stevens had left behind his good form from the day before when he beat the seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry in his semi-final. However, Stevens, who is appearing in his first final since the 2005 world championship, did not panic. He secured the fourth frame by one point to get him off the mark. That gave the two-time world championship runner-up renewed confidence and although Robertson, 26, who has just two title successes to date in the 2006 Grand Prix and the 2007 Welsh Open, re-opened the three-frame gap by taking the fifth frame with a break of 75. Stevens came fighting back with a 50 and a 70 to win the next two, to trail 4-3 going into the evening session. Robertson is still confident that he can pick up his third title where the winner will receive £48,000 (Dh262,000). "I've not seen Matthew play this week but I hear he has been very solid," Robertson said. "With more luck he could have been the world champion two or three times and he is still a world-class player. But I have won both the finals I have been in and he has lost a few." cwhebell@thenational.ae