Hendry shows his usual mastery

Snooker
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The Independent Online
Stephen Hendry reached the final of the Benson and Hedges Masters for the seventh time in eighth years when he beat his fellow countryman Alan McManus 6-4 at Wembley on Saturday night.

Hendry, winner of the Regal Scottish Masters, Skoda Grand Prix and UK Championship so far this season, said: "My form drifted in and out during the match, but it's always a great feeling to get through to the final of this event. Alan is very tough to beat."

McManus, the player responsible for ending Hendry's five-year unbeaten run in the Masters with a 9-8 victory in the 1994 final, made the better start.

When Hendry unexpectedly missed a simple yellow off its spot in the opening frame, McManus stepped in with a clearance to pink and led 2-0 thanks to a 78 break in the second.

But the world No 1 produced a typically emphatic response to go into the mid-session interval on level terms at 2-2.

He won the third frame with a 121 break before following up with a run of 86.

McManus was to suffer another body blow in frame five. Leading 58-13, the Glaswegian jawed a black from short range and Hendry produced a 59 clearance to snatch a 3-2 lead.

At that point the favourite looked ready to take control the contest, but McManus knocked in two 61 breaks to regain control at 4-3.

Hendry tied the scores once again at 4-4, then kept his patience to prevail in a low scoring ninth frame, before he applied the finishing touches with a composed contribution of 61.

In yesterday's best-of-19-frames final, Hendry took an early 6-2 lead against England's Ronnie O'Sullivan, who took only 88 minutes to beat Andy Hicks 6-1 in the other semi-final.

O'Sullivan is suffering from damaged ligaments to his foot he sustained on Thursday when kicking an immovable concrete plant pot. "There was no problem today and I cannot thank the people enough who worked on the foot for three or four hours yesterday. They used laser treatment and creams, and I could feel it getting better," the defending champion said on Saturday.

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