Kyren Wilson produced a blistering display to dispatch 2003 UK Champion Matthew Stevens 10-3 in their first round match at the Betfred World Championship.
Stevens (world finalist in 2000 and 2005) hadn’t appeared at the Theatre of Dreams since 2015 and admitted after qualifying that there were times he’d wondered if he would ever make the final stages of the World Championship again.
In contrast, 26-year-old Wilson reached his maiden Triple Crown final at the Masters in January, where he lost out to Mark Allen and it seems that the peak of the Warrior’s Crucible career could well be ahead of him.
Wilson has also appeared in two ranking finals so far this season, but losses to Ding Junhui at the Yushan World Open and Ronnie O’Sullivan at the English Open have seen him fall short of silverware. He will be hoping to contest at the latter stages this week after runs to the World Championship quarter-finals in 2016 and 2017.
The 2015 Shanghai Masters champion came into this evening’s session with a healthy 7-2 advantage and he compounded that lead immediately with a fine century run of 121. Stevens did pull a frame back, but a further two on the bounce for Wilson including a break of 54 saw him comfortably over the line.
Wilson said: “It’s a very satisfying win. Matthew is a classy opponent, he’s been there and done it before, so a 10-3 scoreline is flattering. I feel like I did most of the damage in the first session. I’m pleased to get the victory, and I’m going to go home and come back refreshed for the second round.
“It was a very tough draw in the first round to get Matthew Stevens. It wasn’t long ago that he was a seed here and I could have been drawing him. I would like to say what a classy guy he is to call his fouls on himself, not once but twice. There was one in the 12th frame where he could have got back to 8-4 and then he would have been back in the game.
“I do need to improve in certain aspects, but it was quite a pleasing performance. I felt like I played well, I didn’t miss anything too simple which is nice. If you’re not missing the easy balls you’re going to be there or thereabouts. It’s just about getting my preparation right now for the second round and coming back refreshed.”
Afterwards Stevens reflected on a disappointing defeat and admitted that picking up a virus ahead of yesterday’s first session had a big impact on his performance.
“I hate going into matches having not slept and feeling ill. I don’t like making excuses, but yesterday afternoon I didn’t want to play. I felt like death warmed up, it was horrible and gutting, but that’s life and worse things happen,” said the 40-year-old. “I felt a million times better today and even at 7-2 I fancied my chances. Kyren would have had to miss a few balls, he is a good player and it didn’t happen so that’s the end of it.”