Hendry in full cry

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Stephen Hendry showed what makes him the world No 1 when he dismissed John Higgins from the UK Championship in Preston, cruising into the final against Peter Ebdon with a 9-1 victory. "Stephen's above us all at present and somehow we must close the gap," Higgins said.

It is the second successive event that Higgins, the British Open and International Open champion, has been taught a lesson by Hendry who beat him in the Skoda Grand Prix final in October. "I am supposed to be provisional No 2 at present but the way I played today I was No 2,002 - I was terrible. Right now I do not feel good enough to live with him. I do not possess the same touch, but maybe will in a couple of years."

Hendry, who reeled off seven consecutive frames after Higgins was fortunate to edge the third on the pink, is sure to face a sterner challenge whne he defends his title against the world No 10 Ebdon.

Hendry beat the Londoner to win the Regal Masters title earlier this season, but Ebdon had beaten Hendry twice before that and believes he has the skill and powers of concentration to deny Hendry a fourth UK crown.

The highlights of yesterday's win were two century breaks in the opening session, which helped Hendry finish the session 7-1 ahead. Higgins missed several chances to close the deficit during the first session. He led 51-0 in the fourth frame, unluckily went in-off after potting the pink and Hendry cleared up with 70. In the next frame Higgins was forced to sit and watch as Hendry knocked in a break of 25 to recover a 54-38 deficit.