Stephen Hendry had a rare off day at the Royal Liver Assurance UK Championship in Preston yesterday, but the Scot still managed to establish a 6-2 overnight advantage over his Irish stablemate, Ken Doherty, in their best-of-17- frames quarter-final.
When the pair met in the 1994 UK final, Hendry went on a potting spree, running up seven century breaks over the course of 12 frames during his 10-5 victory.
The world No 1 came close to reproducing that dazzling form in the earlier rounds of this tournament, including his 147 maximum against Gary Wilkinson in the last 16. But after threatening to launch his bid for the penultimate round with another massive clearance, Hendry went off the boil.
He won the opening frame with a break of 85 but then he fluffed an easy pink with a possible 144 on the table. Doherty, the world No 9 who has won only two of his 10 previous meetings with Hendry, levelled the score at 1-1 with runs of 48 and 34.
He was never as close to Hendry again, partly because of some bad luck and partly because of his tendency to make schoolboy errors. Breaks of 37 and 85 allowed Hendry, the defending champion, to move into a 3-1 lead at the mid- session interval.
However, the Scot seemed certain to lose the fifth when Doherty forged clear, courtesy of a 53 break. To his cost Doherty missed an easy pink and Hendry's own 53 eventually helped him take the frame 77-53.
In the next frame, it was Hendry's turn to make the mistake. He led by 47 points to nil, but allowed Doherty to recover with a run of 59. All the Dubliner required was a clearance up to the blue but he snookered himself on the final yellow.
After several safety exchanges Doherty found himself snookered tight behind the brown ball. Trying to find an escape to hit the green, he struck the blue three times. At the fourth attempt he reached his target, but he left the ball well positioned for Hendry to clear green to pink to go 5-1 up.
The last two frames of the session were shared and Doherty will be frustrated that he did not put himself on level terms going into the concluding phase of the match this afternoon. Hendry requires only three of the last nine frames to stay on course for his fourth UK title in six years.
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