Matthew Stevens geared up for Masters return

Matthew Stevens
Matthew Stevens won the Masters in 2000

Matthew Stevens says it's "great to be back" as he prepares to return to the Masters after a five-year absence.

Stevens has not played in the elite tournament since dropping out of the world's top 16 in 2007.

The Welshman, 34, returns to take on World Champion John Higgins at Alexandra Palace on Tuesday.

"It's one of the tournaments all the top players want to be in. I've not been involved for a few years so it's great to be back," sais Stevens.

"The event gets such a massive audience on TV and in the arena so it just feels really special."

Stevens won the tournament in 2000, beating Ken Doherty 10-8 in the final, but a loss of form has seen him drop down the world standings and forced to qualify for major events.

But having regained his top 16 berth the Carmarthen-born player, who finished runner-up in the 2000 and 2005 World Championships, is ready to take to the Masters stage again and compete for the £150,000 top prize.

"Being back in the top 16 has made a massive difference for me," he added.

"With all the new tournaments the calendar is very busy, so if I had to go to the qualifiers as well it would be a lot tougher.

"I'm winning matches that I was losing before, just the odd 5-4 here and there, but when you add those up it makes a big difference."

Stevens' only other major tournament win came in the 2003 UK Championships but at 34, he believes there is more to come.

"I still feel as if I've got a lot of good years ahead of me in the game," he said.

"My eyes aren't going and I'm in decent nick. Hopefully I'll still be playing at a high level when I'm 40 and beyond."

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