Snooker: Hendry is all tied up by Wattana

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The Independent Online
JAMES WATTANA made life difficult for Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White here last night as he made an encouraging start to his Embassy World Championship second-round tie with the six-times world champion. The world No 15 from Thailand can only save his top 16 status and exclude White from the rankings by reaching his first Crucible final.

It is a huge task for Wattana, whose poor results this season have dropped him to No 25 on the provisional rankings. However, often he reserves his best form for Sheffield as Hendry found to his cost yesterday evening.

Scotland's world No 2 was only one ball from a 5-2 advantage. Instead when the game resumes this afternoon Hendry will be tied at four frames all. Hendry led 46-0 in the seventh frame when he missed a straightforward red. Wattana's clearance of 63 to the brown was not the highest break of the day but it was a splendid effort.

Unfortunately for the former world amateur champion he missed the blue into a top pocket. Hendry potted blue and pink but missed the black, cueing awkwardly off a side cushion. Wattana sank the black for 4-3 and then compiled a 130 clearance in the final frame of the night, forced to take the pink with the majority of reds.

It was the 26th century of the tournament, although John Higgins's 142 against Gerard Greene on the opening Saturday remains the highest break so far.

Hendry, who struggled in the first round to defeat the qualifier Paul Hunter 10-8, had earlier won three frames in succession to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead. His break of 74 in frame six was his highest of the match to combine with earlier efforts of 64 and 65.

Hendry has lost only four of his 20 matches against Wattana and defeated the Thai in the 1997 Embassy semi-final. That is why, despite the closeness of the opening session, he remains favourite to meet the Welshman Matthew Stevens in the quarter-finals.

Joe Perry, meanwhile, shared the penultimate session with Ronnie O'Sullivan yesterday. The final frame of the day was decisive for the 23-year-old. He led 44-0 but missed a difficult blue and O'Sullivan cleared up with 74. That leaves O'Sullivan requiring four of the remaining nine frames to reach the last eight and a match against the 1991 champion, John Parrott.

Results, Digest, page 11