Stephen Hendry was the star of the show on day one of the Bank of Beijing China Open, beating Matthew Stevens 5-0 in just 66 minutes.

Stevens has been in great form of late but Hendry limited him to just nine points during a performance reminiscent of his peak.

He began with a century - as he often seems to - but, this time, kept it going rather than immediately fizzling out.

Just as one swallow doesn't make a summer, so one excellent performance doesn't mean he is suddenly back to his best but it must have given him great heart.

Hendry has always performed well when his back is to the wall: 8-2 down to Mike Hallett in the 1991 Masters final, 14-8 down to Jimmy White in the 1992 world final and even 9-7 down to Zhang Anda at the Crucible last year.

Now, he knows he needs a good finish to the season to retain a place in the elite top 16. Maybe that will spur him on to end the campaign strongly.

Stephen Lee has not had the best draw for either of the last two tournaments of the season. He has John Higgins to look forward to at the Crucible and today faces Mark Williams, the defending champion, in Beijing.

Lee has played very well this season but Williams clearly has his mojo back. His victory over Ding Junhui in last year's China Open final was his first in a ranking tournament in four years. He has since won the German Masters and came within a whisker of landing the UK crown.

Joe Perry is one of those players well capable of causing an upset against Shaun Murphy, whose Twitter updates suggest he has found sleeping difficult in Beijing.

Similarly, Mark Davis could cause Stephen Maguire problems, particularly as Maguire's pre-tournament focus has been - happily - affected by the arrival of his third child.


kildare cueman said...

Hard to see Hendry beating either Williams or Lee, even if he plays well, but you never know.

Remember that match against Harold last year or maybe the year before, where he played brilliantly but was back to normal in losing the next match.

It seems as a player ages he still produces some great performances but just can't string enough of them together to make an impact.

On the subject of ageing players, what a match between Williams and Lee. Four centries and a 63, then Lee clears up to win on the black. Roy of the Rovers stuff.

Lee, who in the past has had clinching issues, will no doubt be heartened by that clearance. There were added pressure factors involved with it in that it was a decider, most of the reds were safe, Willams was on fire, and the ranking points involved could well place him back in the top 16.

If Lee manages to return, he will continue the Renaissance of the veterans, alongside Stevens, Williams and Ebdon, who have all been deposed from the elite, and managed to either get reinstated or position themselves strongly to do so.

What a generation of players the early 90's produced.

Betty Logan said...

It looks like Williams has blown his chance of being introduced as World Number 1 at the Crucible, should John Higgins win his opening match in China. Still is a strong favourite for finishing the season number 1 though.


Great to see the great man performing well.

Anonymous said...

Read this story in a small bit at the back of the newspaper today, and when I sam the Headline 'Hendry Whitewash' it was only natural to think that he was on the recieving end on one........nice surprise to read that it was Hendry doing the whitewashing.

Encouraging win, and he played well doing it, but it is a question if he can keep it up.

I sometimes get the feeling with Hendry though, that a good performance, or a good win like this, doesnt seem to have the lasting confdence boost that this sort of result would give other players.

Agreeing with Kildare Cueman, I remember a bit of the Harold match at that Welsh open....he won 5-1. leading 4-0 at interval, and If I remember right, Hendry had been playing very well with a new Cue from John Parris.
Expected a decent run in that years Welsh open, then, he goes out in the second round in a unexplicably poor performance, when all looked well.

We will see what happens next......

Sparky said...

Hendry will probably NOT benefit from having to wait 3 days between his first match and his second.

Anonymous said...

On a sidenote: we have yet another tournament where 90% of the players ignore the people waiting for autographs. This arrogance really annoys me. Even my personal hero Hendry has this terrible habit.

What's the big deal with spending 3minutes max signing a few autographs, chatting with fans or taking a picture? I'm not much for making rules but they should be strongly encouraged by the WSPBA to drop the snobbish attitude and give the fans some payback.

Dave, give 'em hell! Your word carries weight.

Anonymous said...


the players are encouraged not to do so in the arena, esp if other matches are on nearby. in china 7 becomes 25 very quickly down at the front.

that is why you only occasionally see a player the odd time sign a couple and go.

they have the match sheet to sign and press to do straight away after a match.

if hendry had waited and did some, that some could have been 50, easily

sometimes, just think before you post, and maybe ASK instead of assuming you know whats really going on

Anonymous said...

Dave, it says 8 comments and when you click and open the box there are only 7


Anonymous said...

6:50 There is a middle ground here. They can politely turn down people but just ignoring people they way they do at every single tournament is pure arrogance.

There is no excuse for that.

Anonymous said...

youre talking rubbish 300

i know most of the pros and id say only about 5 of the top 40 are in any way arrogant