Snooker: Hendry finds his crock of gold

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The Independent Online
STEPHEN HENDRY silenced his critics with an impressive 9-5 victory over James Wattana to capture a record fifth successive Benson and Hedges Masters title at Wembley Conference Centre last night.

Hendry, who pocketed a first prize of pounds 110,000, took his unbeaten run in the tournament - since 1989 - to 20 matches and won the right to keep the antique gold trophy.

Victory also ended a barren spell for the Scotsman, whose last success in Britain came in the Matchroom League eight and a half months ago. Only last week Hendry was overtaken by Jimmy White at the head of the provisional world rankings, the first time since May 1990 that he has been removed from the top position.

'It's nice to prove people wrong, but first and foremost I wanted to win for my own satisfaction,' Hendry said. 'I don't think five wins on the trot here will ever be done again.

He said he had been playing 'very poorly' at the UK Championship and World Matchplay, but 'this has given me extra motivation for the rest of the season'.

Hendry, who has earned over pounds 200,000 during the 1992-93 season despite his relatively poor run of results, added: 'When you believe that you're the best player in the world it's very depressing when you keep on playing like an idiot.'

Hendry was nowhere near his best in the afternoon session but with Wattana, who beat Jimmy White in the semi-finals also making mistakes, the Scot was able to go into the interval with a 4-3 lead. However, when play resumed Hendry took control, compiling breaks of 54, 55 and 81 to establish a 6-3 lead.

Wattana pulled a frame back with his first century of the tournament, in frame 10, before Hendry regained control with breaks of 52, 62 and 65 in the following two frames to lead 8-4. In that period Wattana managed to score only 13 points. The Thai, who captured the World Matchplay title in December, stayed alive with decisive breaks of 38 and 36 in frame 13 but Hendry sealed victory in the 14th.

BENSON AND HEDGES MASTERS (Wembley Conference Centre): Semi-finals: S Hendry (Sco) bt A McManus (Sco) 6-4; J Wattana (Thai) bt J White (Eng) 6-3. Final: Hendry bt Wattana 9-5. Frame scores (Hendry first): 14-59 96-42 72-0

44-77 90-21 25-59 74-14 113-1 81-22 9-107 74-12 127-1 16-75 74-1.