Lee extracts revenge on Ebdon

 

Stephen Lee was in jubilant mood after capturing his second world ranking title by securing victory in the LG Cup in Preston tonight.

Almost three years to the day since his breakthrough triumph, also at the Guild Hall in the Grand Prix, Lee re-entered the winner's circle with a satisfying 9-4 victory over arch-rival Peter Ebdon.

Lee, who ended John Higgins' attempt to win three successive tournaments in the quarter-finals and overcame seven-times Crucible king Stephen Hendry in the semi-finals, collected the Stg£82,500 first prize, the biggest payday of his life.

Not surprisingly, the 27-year-old from Trowbridge, who stands eighth in the world rankings, described the result as his finest achievement.

"The whole day was tough but I couldn't be happier," said Lee, embraced moments after sinking the final ball by his new coach Del Hill.

The so-called grudge match followed Ebdon's 13-12 second-round win over Lee in the World Championship at the Crucible in Sheffield six months ago.

Ebdon, known for his exuberant celebrations at the table, punched the air and shouted "Yes, yes!" much to the disgust of his victim.

Today's pre-match handshake was frosty, Lee looking straight ahead rather than making eye contact with his opponent, and although both players have said nothing derogatory about each other at this event it was clear there was quite an edge to proceedings.

Afterwards, though, Lee buried the hatchet, saying: "I think that's all forgotten about now but I had a point to get across.

"It was horrible at the time and the drive back from Sheffield was one of the longest of my life.

Lee, who hammered Hong Kong's Marco Fu 9-2 to capture his only previous world ranking title looked capable of pulling away again when he built a 3-0 advantage.

But Ebdon has a deserved reputation as a fighter and it was no surprise that he tied the scores at 3-3 before Lee found second wind.

Ebdon did not pot a ball in the closing two frames of the afternoon session and although he rallied from 55 points adrift in the next with a 78 clearance, Lee powered 8-4 in front thanks to contributions of 46, 70 and 52.

Lee had the opportunity to seal victory with his first century of the event but had to settle for a run of 71 in frame 13. -PA