Snooker: O'Sullivan loses the fear factor

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STEPHEN HENDRY cast doubt on his ability to regain the world title next month when he was beaten by Ronnie O'Sullivan in the semi-finals of the British Open in Plymouth yesterday.

O'Sullivan reached his third ranking final of the season with a 6-2 win and now plays either Steve Davis or James Wattana. 'I never thought I was going to lose,' O'Sullivan said. 'Stephen's reputation used to intimidate me but not any more.'

O'Sullivan is showing his best form since beating Hendry in the UK Championship and then losing to the Scotsman in the European Open final two weeks later.

He began with a nine-minute break of 84 to win the first frame and then had breaks of 56 and 45 to lead 3-1 after Hendry levelled at 1-1. Hendry's best break of 68 in frame five raised the world champion's hopes but mistakes that have dogged him this year reappeared.