MATTHEW Stevens conceded he lost to the better player after suffering a quarter-final exit at the UK Championships in York.
Stevens, from Carmarthen, was beaten 6-4 by Mark Davis in a scrappy game at the Barbican, ending his best run in the competition since taking the title at the same venue in 2003.
Stevens had raced into a 2-0 lead but Davis, conqueror of world No. 3 John Higgins in the previous round, then showed the form that has seen him reach three semi-finals this year. The world No.1 6 made it 3-2 only for Stevens to respond and level things up.
However, Davis proved more clinical thereafter, and took advantage of Steven's profligacy to ensure a semi-final berth.
"He deserved it," admitted 35-year-old Stevens. "I started off well and went 2-0 up but he responded really well in the next couple of frames. I made a good clearance to come back to 3-3 and thought that might have been the turning point but all credit to Mark for the way he played.
"I missed a few balls, and had a couple of kicks which could have turned it around, but to be fair I didn't deserve to win."
A convincing 6-1 first-round victory over Dominic Dale and subsequent 6-4 second-round success against Marco Fu had allowed Stevens to remind himself of his victory here nine years ago. And the world No. 14 said he himself had started to believe he could go on and secure the second ranking title of his career.
"I did start to think it might happen, but at the same time you cannot take anything for granted," he added. "I'm pleased with my own form and I feel like I have played well but unfortunately I missed a few chances and Mark took advantage."
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