Snooker: McManus arrives: Benson and Hedges Masters

Click to follow
The Independent Online
ALAN McMANUS made it lucky seven in the Benson and Hedges Masters final at Wembley Conference Centre last night when he shed his reputation as a nearly man.

The Scot, beaten in six major finals and the semi-finals of 11 other leading tournaments during his four-year professional career, finally entered the winner's circle by edging out his compatriot, Stephen Hendry, 9-8 in an exciting final.

McManus, deflated only eight days ago after losing 9-6 to Steve Davis in the final of the Regal Welsh Open, collected a first prize of pounds 115,000 after ending Hendry's five-year, 23-match unbeaten record in the circuit's most prestigious invitation tournament.

When McManus made breaks of 83, 55 and a 31 clearance to pink in the third frame to establish a 3-0 lead, it was strikingly reminiscent of his strong start against Davis in the Welsh final. On that occasion, McManus led 4-0 before losing and he was again on the receiving end of a strong fightback as Hendry, finding his fluency, responded with runs of 37, 38, 115 - his first century of the event - and 67 to level at 3-3.

McManus, the world No 6, did win the closing frame of the afternoon to take a 4-3 advantage into the evening but his ascendancy was to be short-lived. An 80-break put Hendry back on equal terms at 4-4 and after McManus had temporarily regained the lead by winning frame nine, the world champion stole the 10th on the black for 5-5.

When Hendry scored additional breaks of 62 and 58 to move into a

7-5 lead he seemed to have killed off McManus's challenge. But the 23- year-old Glaswegian, keen to capture his first major title, turned the tide by winning the next two frames to force a 7-7 deadlock.

Again Hendry became favourite by regaining the lead at 8-7 but McManus forced a decider by prevailing in a nailbiting 16th frame. And when Hendry missed a plant at the start of the decider, McManus held his composure superbly to put together a decisive 76 break.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 35

Comments