'I would love to have seen Jimmy win,' Hendry said after his 18-17 win. John Spencer, a former champion and chairman of the World Professional Billards and Snooker Association, said it was only a question of time before White became world champion. 'He will be remembered as the greatest player ever,' he said.
Which was all very nice, but of little comfort to White, who has reached the final at The Crucible on six occasions and lost the lot. This time the defeat was made the more frustrating because victory was his for the taking. At 37-24 up in the final frame and with the balls spread invitingly, he missed a black off its spot.
'I couldn't believe it,' he said. 'I didn't even cue it properly. I hurried the shot. It was a total rush of blood. It wasn't pressure; it was just mad, a twitch, no composure at all. It was just 'quickly, quickly give me the cup'. I got excited.'
The cup was handed instead to Hendry, whose fourth win puts him within range of Steve Davis's six titles at The Crucible. While White's excitement got the better of him, Hendry coolly compiled a break of 58 to win. It was the only final to go the distance other than Dennis Taylor's triumph on the last ball of the last frame against Steve Davis in 1985.
'It's the best match I've ever been involved in and probably the best I'm ever likely to be in,' Hendry said, while playing down any suggestion he had been so stretched because of the broken bone in his left arm. 'I'm proud of myself for clearing up in that last frame. I was shaking like a jelly.'
For White, any shaking was down to disappointment. He could quantify the loss, rating it a lesser blow than the final of two years ago when Hendry won 10 frames in succession. 'I'm gutted,' he said, 'but not like I was when I was 14-8 up. That was a bit of a blur. This was a right ding-dong to the end.'
As Hendry conceded, the match became the equivalent of tossing a coin when it became a one-frame decider. For White, though, the coin never seems to land on the right side.
EMBASSY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (Sheffield) Final: S Hendry (Sco) bt J White (Eng) 18-17 (Frame scores: 7-94 64-52 89-0 68-21 93-24 76-0 1-85 68-70 42-85 29-72 15-110 37-84 71-54 59-60 94-27 15-64 71-26 89-0 0-77 25-69 73-4 88-13 53-64 72-34 56-61 68-31 66-34 67-34 0-116 (116 break) 72-39 66-71 66-67 68-0 0-85 82-37).