Snooker: Williams and Hendry are made to wait

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The Independent Online
STEPHEN HENDRY gained a slender advantage over the man of the moment, Mark Williams, as the two men went into the final session of the Welsh Open final in Cardiff last night.

Given the bizarre scheduling of the contest, the players had plenty of time to reflect on their performances before resuming the battle for a pounds 60,000 first prize. Hendry and Williams were at the table for only 98 minutes before facing a four-and-a-half hour wait to resume the match.

The first ranking tournament final of 1999 saw Hendry hold a 4-3 lead, which was an encouraging start for the 30-year-old Scot, who had lost two major finals against Williams.

"I certainly owe him one," Hendry said after qualifying for his 89th final on Saturday night with a 6-2 semi-final success over Joe Swail. For the first time in years Hendry went into a final as the second favourite.

The Scot compiled three centuries in six frames in the penultimate round to fill himself with renewed confidence. But neither player really settled down in the opening stages, watched by the latest capacity crowd at the International Arena.

Williams, appearing in his fourth successive final, was bidding to become the seventh player to win back-to-back ranking titles after his triumph in the Irish Open last month, but only the second Welsh cueman after Doug Mountjoy.

He twice trailed by a couple of frames as Hendry got the jump on him early on.

Breaks of 57, 43 and 39 took him 2-0 clear but he contributed just eight points in the next two frames as Williams levelled.

The local favourite had a chance to hit the front in frame five but for once his usually deadly accuracy let him down when trying to pot an easy red.

Hendry made a 67 clearance and 56 in frame four to regain his two frames cushion. Twenty minutes later the two shook hands with Williams right back in contention, only one adrift and 10 frames left to decide the outcome of the trophy.