Snooker: Davis lets Hendry off hook

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The Independent Online
Stephen Hendry had described his semi-final with Steve Davis in the Embassy World Championship as a massive battle and last night there was little indication who will be the victor.

They will resume the best-of-31- frames match this afternoon locked at 4-4 and with neither side much the wiser. Hendry's handicap, a broken bone in his left arm, did not prevent him making breaks of 75 and 70 while Davis's psyche, wounded by recent 9-3 and 7-1 defeats against his greatest rival, seems fully repaired.

Last night the first indications for Hendry were not promising. When the No 1 seed allowed Davis two bites at the cherry in the first frame it suggested the lack of practice his injury had caused might be crucial.

Davis took the next with a break of 33 and was on the verge of opening an important gap when he had the balls at his mercy in the third frame. A missed black off its spot allowed Hendry to take the frame 68-26, however, and provided the turning point of the evening.

From the brink of being 3-0 down, Hendry rattled off four of the next five frames and it required a break of 61 from Davis in the last frame of the evening to gain parity.

In the other semi-final Jimmy White leads 4-3 after a session in which Darren Morgan proved his durability again. More than once White appeared about to break free, but his limpet-like opponent clung on.

White was in his ninth semi-final at The Crucible while Morgan was making his first appearance in the last four, and the initial impression was that experience would prove important. The former flew out of his corner to make decisive breaks of 54 and 67 that decided the first two frames.

The third was taken 69-50 but it also provided the first sign that Morgan might hinder the third seed's procession towards his fifth successive final and in the next the Welshman gained his first frame.

It was typical Morgan: nothing flamboyant, just steady accumulation of points. The breaks of 3, 28, 20 and 13 bore out his words of the night before when he had said: 'I'll be hard to beat.' The 27-year-old from Cwmfelinach had continued: 'To get to the semi-finals of the world championships is an achievement for me. Everything else is a bonus. The pressure is off, I intend to enjoy myself.'

His enjoyment will have been intensified by the conclusion to yesterday's session. White took the fifth frame 90-26 with breaks of 62 and 27 to lead 4-2 but Morgan whittled away at his advantage, gaining the sixth and seventh with breaks of 96 and 34.

At the end the expressions on the faces of the players summed up the afternoon. White clearly was not pleased that his lead was only one frame while Morgan was all smiles as he left the arena.

(Photograph omitted)

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