Snooker: White gets no change out of Hendry: Scottish champion retains his world championship as the Londoner forgets his final lines

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The Independent Online
FOR Jimmy White it was a familiar scene. Another world championship final and another defeat. White versus Disappointment part five, and the latter always wins.

Stephen Hendry duly completed his win at The Crucible yesterday, pushing his 12-4 advantage from the first day over the line at 18-5. The difference was every bit as emphatic as the scoreline suggests. Indeed, there were some who believed it flattered White. He has now been runner-up five times, four of which have occurred in the last four years.

Not that the 31-year-old Londoner performed badly; he had barely any opportunity to perform at all. A player who goes for his shots like him will always leave opportunities and Hendry, throughout the final, rarely needed more than one. From the moment he hit a 136 clearance in the final's opening frame he was emphatically on top.

'I couldn't find the baulk cushion,' White said, 'and if you give Stephen an inch it's all over. He played brilliantly, I think he only missed two long pots all match. I'm disappointed I didn't compete but it's not like last year when I felt completely gutted. This time I felt I was ready to produce but I didn't get the chance.

'The only time I produced all week was against (James) Wattana. The rest of the time I played like a dog. I'm disappointed but I've not given up hope of winning this championship. I'll be back next year.'

Like the first day of the final, Hendry established his superiority from the beginning. White broke, Hendry rattled in 22 points; White made a mistake, Hendry added a further 59. It was a pattern that was repeated ad nauseam.

Within three frames yesterday any prospect of a White fightback had been stamped upon with characteristic ruthlessness. At 15-4 Hendry had taken seven frames in succession - shades of his 10-frame sequence last year when he recovered from 14-8 down to win.

By the finish he had won 13 out of 14 frames, prompting someone to ask White whether Hendry had become a bogyman. 'At the moment, yes,' he replied. 'Normally, no. I can't say whether he is the best player I've met because you'd have to consider Steve Davis and Alex Higgins, but he was pretty good here.'

At the mid-session interval the only doubt was whether White could delay Hendry's procession long enough to stretch the match into the evening. White was playing for a respectable margin of defeat rather than a realistic hope of winning, but even that was denied him. The last frame was a lap of honour for Hendry, embellished by breaks of 54 and 73.

'Without doubt it was the finest I've ever played,' the champion said. 'I punished every mistake and never lost my concentration. I was 100 per cent for two days, I felt awesome every time I went to the table. You can always improve, there are parts of my game that need working on, but it will take something to get better than winning the world championship final

18-5. I'm proud to be the second man to win at The Crucible three times.'

The other statistics were even more impressive. He hit three breaks of more than 100 during the final to become the record-holder of competitive centuries with 206. He has also won 37 of the last 42 frames he has played against White, who is his closest rival. Hendry says be is being pushed by his rivals, but the only one that would seem to be a danger is complacency.

White, meanwhile, was coming to terms with another defeat. The expression 'the finest player never to win the world championship' has become a curse.

EMBASSY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (The Crucible, Sheffield): Final: S Hendry (Sco) bt J White (Eng)


Frame scores (Hendry first): 136 (136)-0, 37-69, 68- 63, 63-48, 76-0, 126 (126)-0, 29-83, 39-68, 75-50, 80- 0, 134-0, 38-69, 99-0, 77-38, 80-7, 68-6, 81-46, 66- 20, 123 (123)-16, 1-84, 63-15, 72-0, 127-0.

(Photograph omitted)