Hendry firing again

It was just like old times as Stephen Hendry, who has not won a significant title for 13 months, buried Ken Doherty, the 1997 world champion, 6-1 under an avalanche of breaks to reach today's final of the Regal Scottish Masters at Motherwell.

It was just like old times as Stephen Hendry, who has not won a significant title for 13 months, buried Ken Doherty, the 1997 world champion, 6-1 under an avalanche of breaks to reach today's final of the Regal Scottish Masters at Motherwell.

Hendry's inner fire of ambition has not been burning with the same intensity since he won his seventh world title, a modern-era record, 18 months ago. His manager, Ian Doyle, recently resorted transparently to motivation by press interview, stating: "History might show, unless Stephen refocuses himself, that Steve Davis is the greatest player the game has ever seen."

Any lengthy renewal of Hendry's will to excel must come, though, from within, and he may well have been jolted chiefly by his distaste for losing. He also admitted watching an interview last week between Murray Walker and Michael Schumacher, who is one of his heroes: "He said he just wanted to keep on - and on and this is a guy who has £300m in the bank. It brought the message home to me that I play snooker and I've got to keep doing it."

Having played flawlessly to 4-0 against Alan McManus in the quarter-finals, he was angry he let his concentration slip, particularly in missing a simple match ball yellow for 6-2. Even after a break of 68 in the decider to prevail 6-5, he was scathing in his self-criticism.

Doherty had reached the semi-finals for the loss of only two frames - to Matthew Williams and to a 147-break from Marco Fu . He made a tidy 49 break in the opening frame, but mis-hit a safety which allowed Hendry to steal it with 70. This opened the floodgates as, with breaks of 83, 58, 92, 52 and 59, Hendry outscored the Dubliner 437 to 24 to lead 5-0.

A 61 break brought him to the brink of 6-0 but a miscue allowed Doherty to initiate the recovery with which he took the frame on the pink. Normal service was immediately resumed, however, as Hendry concluded with a 98 break.

In advance of the second semi-final today between Mark Williams, the world champion, and Ronnie O'Sullivan, Hendry regarded himself as the underdog - but not, surely, if he plays as well as he did yesterday.

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