Snooker: Hendry quick to secure 'weird' win over Higgins

 

the crucible

Stephen Hendry won the frame he needed to complete a crushing13-4 victory over John Higgins to reach the quarter-finals of the World Championship yesterday. The seven-time champion's long-awaited first encounter here with his fellow Scot, a four-time winner in Sheffield, failed to live up to the expectations that it would go close.

Higgins played perhaps the worst session of his career on Friday evening to gift it 7-1 to Hendry. Armed with a 12-4 lead, there was no way Hendry was going to lose yesterday.

Higgins looked set to take the opening frame yesterday but missed a pink and a break of 64 from Hendry left last year's champion needing a snooker which he was unable to produce. Hendry plays another Scot, Stephen Maguire, in the last eight after he beat Joe Perry 13-7.

Hendry, the world No 23, admitted the one-sided nature of the match, and particularly the middle session, surprised him. "Last night was probably one of the strangest sessions of snooker I've played at the Crucible," he said yesterday. "I'm fortunate in the fact John's probably not played as bad in his life at the Crucible as he did then.

"You feel lucky if you get one or two chances in a frame against John. I was getting four, five or six chances. And at times I was coming to the table in shock and not really knowing what to do because it was weird. But you've just got to try to win the frames whatever way you can.

"If someone had said I would beat John Higgins 13-4 beforehand, I would have said they were nuts. I fully expected him to come out on Friday night with all guns blazing. In the end it just turned into a weird session of snooker."

Higgins was puzzled by how he played. "I have no idea what happened last [Friday] night," he admitted. "Stephen was very good in the balls, and looked back to his best, especially in the first session.

"From 5-3 I thought it would be close, but I ended up dragging him down to my level. I can't describe how bad it was. I probably have played worse, but this place can do that to you. I have seen it, it can give you your best moments but also your worst nightmares.

"Even with how bad I was feeling I thought if I could get to 10-6 I had a chance, but I missed a pink and at11-4 I knew it was over. You watch other matches and players and think 'How did they miss that?' but when you're out there and it's going wrong you can see it coming.

"Everything was hard or difficult, even simple positional shots. It's a hard thing, a tough place when you're going through turmoil."

Resuming with a lead of 11-5 yesterday morning, the world No 7 Maguire saw Perry take the first two frames. But Maguire won the next before a break of 79 confirmed his place in a fourth Crucible quarter-final in six years.

Maguire had led 5-3 after a high-quality first session which featured three consecutive century breaks – 116 from Perry, followed by two scores of 101 from Maguire – in the opening three frames.

As Perry faltered in the second session, the Scot started to dominate. "I think I finished the match by winning the second session 7-1," he said.

Ryan Day, who lost quarter-finals here in 2008 and 2009, is through to the last eight again after he beat Cao Yupeng of China 13-7, finishing the match with his second century of the evening. He awaits the winner of the match between fellow Welshman Matthew Stevens and Barry Hawkins.

Judd Trump, last year's runner-up who struggled with food poisoning in his first-round win over Dominic Dale, trails Ali Carter 5-3.

In the other unfinished match, Ronnie O'Sullivan leads Mark Williams 5-3 after grabbing the last frame.

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