Matthew Stevens reckons too much drinking and not enough snooker caused his first round World Championship exit, writes Will Jennings.
The Carmarthen potter lost 10-5 to four-time champion John Higgins at the Crucible after struggling for consistency in both sessions, continuing his mixed season at the table that’s seen him reach just a solitary ranking event quarter-final.
The world No.31 swapped beers for balls in lockdown and admits that may help explain his below-par performance behind closed doors.
“I wouldn’t say I feel refreshed as I was drinking everyday and not playing snooker!” the 42-year-old said.
“It’s the same for everyone, really, I was just, like everyone else in the house, watching box sets and Netflix and that’s about it.
“I don’t think there’s anything left I can’t watch! I was just watching everything, really, but it will be nice to have a little break now, for a month.
“Obviously I haven’t worked at all over the lockdown period, and I’m quite pleased I got this far, really.
“I’m not really bothered about the pressure of the audience and that’s what makes you play better, I think.
“It wasn’t nice and it’s not nice for everyone, but that’s the world we’re living in at the minute and it’s the same for everyone.”
Stevens made world No.5 Higgins battle for his triumph but a lack of clinical edge was what cost the Welshman, as he struggled to follow up his tenth frame break of 138 as the second session unfolded.
The fine effort reduced the deficit to 6-4 but visits of 61 and 53 from 30-time ranking event winner Higgins, who is bidding for his first Crucible crown since 2011, proved enough to book his place in the last 16.
2003 UK Championship winner Stevens is a two-time World Championship finalist so knows what it takes to go all the way in Sheffield, but is aware his best cueing days are behind him as he enters the twilight of his career.
But the motivation to improve still burns brightly and he says he’ll be back with a bang when the globetrotting circuit begins next season.
“I’m going to put my cue away for a month and start again in about six weeks’ time,” he added.
“I made one or two many errors today, and when you’re playing someone like John he does pounce on you, and that’s why he’s one of the all-time greats.
“I’ve been okay in patches this season - out there today I wasn’t brilliant, but I felt okay in patches so I can build on that.”
Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July -16th August with analysis from Jimmy White.