Even younger players are eroded by the process of elimination. Or they should be. Stephen Hendry is approaching the current championship at The Crucible with all the careworn attitude of an exhibition match. To date he has lost just 10 frames in getting to the verge of the semi-finals.
Yesterday he was irrepressible. Nigel Bond did not play badly - breaks of 139 and 101 do not come easily to a man with a creaking cue action - but he was swept aside 11-5. This, the ninth-best snooker player in the world. He might as well have been the 9,009th.
The statistics - nine breaks of 50 or better - were impressive enough but even they do not truly reflect Hendry's performance. Bond only had to give the No 1 seed the barest glimmer of a chance and the frame was over. Most yesterday were won with just one visit to the table. On the first shot of the day Hendry went in off the pack and, having provided the exception, proceded almost without further flaw. He requires just two more frames this morning.
Jimmy White, who was runner-up to Hendry last year, is also nearing the semi-finals. He leads the 1985 champion, Dennis Taylor, 10-6 after overturning a 5-3 deficit by winning seven of last night's eight frames.
The match was one of contrasts. Taylor is not a man for the reckless gamble and even if he was it would have been in his interests to defy his instincts and slow his opponent down. In the morning he gave a master class in disruption, dawdling over shots and tying White into safety exchanges. The Whirlwind had barely a chance to build into a decent draught.
There was always the suspicion that it would take a herculean effort for Taylor to withstand White's attacking instincts indefinitely, however, and in the evening the resistance was breached. The damage included breaks of 49, 55, 55, 55 and 72.
There was also some wear and tear on the 1991 champion John Parrott, whose record against yesterday's opponent, James Wattana, includes the only whitewash of his career. The session ended 5-3 in the Thai's favour.
Parrott opened the day with a break of 43 but was eclipsed in the first frame by Wattana's two visits to the table which yielded 60 points. It set a precedent. Parrott frequently had first run at the balls but either went out of position or missed a pot. Only once did he flow fully, with a 122 break in the fifth frame.
Alan McManus, meanwhile, was unable to slip the clutches of Neal Foulds. McManus was behind only once when he defeated Steve Davis in his previous match, but on this occasion it was the 22-year-old Glaswegian who needed his adhesive powers to stick to his opponent. After trailing 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3, he will enter today's sessions level at 4-4.Reuse content