Stephen Hendry saw off the challenge of the six-times world champion Steve Davis to book his place in the last 16 of the Regal Welsh Open in Cardiff yesterday. The seven-times world champion compiled two centuries during his 5-1 victory.
Hendry had had the better of Davis 36 times from their previous 52 meetings but the pair had never before met in the opening round of a ranking event. "It was strange playing Steve in the first round when we've played in so many semis and finals over the years and it took us a couple of frames to get used to it," the Scot said.
However, the world No 5 showed few nerves in winning the opening frame on the pink and, having opened a 2-1 advantage, built breaks of 120 and 102 to move 4-1 ahead.
Davis was poised to reduce his arrears as he cleared the colours in the sixth frame but he missed the pink, left it hanging in the jaws of a corner pocket, and was forced to concede the frame and match.
Following his victory Hendry was swift to pay tribute to his 44-year-old opponent, who occupies 21st place in the rankings. "We've had some great battles and he was the player I looked up to when I was growing up," he said. "Too often you hear youngsters saying that their hero was Jimmy White but while he played attractive snooker, what did he win?"
Elsewhere, the defending champion Ken Doherty beat Thailand's James Wattana 5-2, while the world No 3 John Higgins beat Ali Carter 5-0 in just 64 minutes. Alan McManus, the world No 12, was the first seeded player to crash out of the tournament when he was beaten 5-0 by Joe Perry.