Snooker: Rocket finds 'perfection' as he blasts into the final

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The Independent Online

Becoming Hendry the VIII has been a target for Scotland's seven-times champion since his last world title in 1999, but the only eight Stephen Hendry is likely to remember from this year's World Championship is the 8-0 whitewash he suffered yesterday morning at the genius hands of Ronnie O'Sullivan in the second session of their semi-final.

That left "The Rocket" 12-4 ahead and he eased his way to a 17-6 win in the evening with breaks of 126 and 123. Hendry described O'Sullivan's perfromance as "snooker perfection".

It was the first time Hendry had been on the end of an 8-0 session drubbing in the 22 years since he made his debut in the tournament as a 17-year-old. To make matters worse, Hendry had been 4-1 up overnight and O'Sullivan took the last frame so in total he took 12 consecutive frames.

"Ronnie was outstanding," Hendry said. "His all-round game was the best I've ever played against. His safety was the best I've ever seen and whenever I missed he just cleared up. It was snooker perfection. He is the best player in the world by a country mile. In the afternoon, I can't remember him missing a ball or going out of position. It was awesome. There was nothing I could do."

The eight he won yesterday morning, two of them with back-to-back centuries, were chalked off in sublime fashion as he made breaks of 93, 57, 87, 133, 135, 85 and 70. Hendry had one break of more than 50, a 53 in the second frame of the day, but he lost it 72-61.

In the day's first frame, Hendry missed a red which he left over a corner pocket and O'Sullivan responded with a 93. Hendry was also first among the balls in the next with a 53 but was beaten by a snooker on the final blue from O'Sullivan. Hendry tried to pot the blue but failed to make contact and O'Sullivan cleared up.

At one stage, O'Sullivan scored 448 points without reply in a run that included both centuries. Hendry finally got some points in the match's 15th frame but an 85 stretched O'Sullivan's lead to 11-4. Hendry then led 44-0 in the final afternoon frame but he let O'Sullivan back in with a 70.

The Scot finally ended his losing run with an excellent 85 in the first frame of the evening session but that was just a temporary respite as O'Sullivan raced to victory with a session to spare, compiling superb knocks of 126 and 123 – his fifth century – on the way.

In the other semi-final, Ali Carter dominated the second session against Joe Perry to open up a 9-7 lead. The 28-year-old recovered from a 5-3 overnight deficit by winning six of the eight frames as Perry struggled to find his touch for lengthy periods.