It was April 22nd, 1986 when Stephen Hendry first walked into the Crucible arena. Today could very well be the last time he walks out.

In between he has taken snooker forward in terms of the way it is played and set down a series of achievements which mark him out as the greatest player who ever lived.

He finds himself 12-4 down overnight to Mark Selby, one of the many young players who grew up watching Hendry and now play his game better than the seven times world champion himself.

Selby even set a record of his own yesterday by becoming the first player to compile six centuries in a single match at the Crucible.

Then he won the last frame of the afternoon having needed four snookers.

Not everyone would have played on but, in fact, the colours were ideally positioned to at least give it a go.

With one red on, it's actually two snookers and a free ball, although Selby eventually got five snookers as well as giving away six points himself.

Laughably, he was accused by some of being unsporting for doing this.

Hendry for one would have been embarrassed to be merely handed a frame out of sympathy. He never showed any of his opponents any when he was destroying them.

I expect Hendry to delay any decision about retirement until after the tournament is over. Even so, he is by no means guaranteed an automatic place at the Crucible next year.

John Higgins clawed his way into a 10-5 overnight lead over Rory McLeod.

There's no doubt McLeod was trying hard. Yes, he was really trying.

Class shone through in the end, though, but Higgins has expended far more mental energy than he would have liked just to reach the quarter-finals if he does indeed come through today.

Tonight's session could be a cracker with both matches poised at 9-7.

That's the lead Stuart Bingham holds over Ding Junhui. I was impressed with Bingham's attitude last night. He came out attacking, playing positively and going for his shots and, as Ding faltered, he opened an 8-4 lead.

The dreaded interval allowed just enough time for a few doubts to creep in and suddenly he only led 8-6 and trailed 61-0 in the next.

But a superb 72 clearance to the pink gave him the frame and though Ding won the last, the match is still in the balance.

The final session will be as much a test of nerve as a test of skill. Bingham has to try and remain positive if he is to cause an upset.

Ronnie O'Sullivan's 9-5 advantage over Shaun Murphy was reduced to 9-7 by the end of their second session.

This match is bubbling up nicely and may well come properly to life this evening...13-12 has a certain ring to it.

On a final point, it is Paul Hunter day in the CueZone in Sheffield today, commemorating Paul's life and the good work of the Paul Hunter Foundation set up in his name.

Paul's father, Alan, and daughter, Evie Rose, will be in attendance.


Tatannes said...

Many players concede a frame with one snooker needed.
Hendo often does it.
Maybe laughable but Mark has lost fans yesterday after he overreacted.

Hendry needs competition to rebuild his confidence.
PTC are the best way to do it but will he be humble enough to accept that ?

Anonymous said...

fans he may have lost yesterday know bugger all about snooker.

Anonymous said...

I think Hendry needs to get off his high horse and play in the PTCs next season and I believe he will. Retiring from not just snooker but any career at only 42 is very risky from a mental health point of view.
I don't understand what is wrong with a player in decline naturally playing out his career as he slowly drops down the rankings. Everything tends to entropy eventually!:-)

Mat Wilson


Hi David. Great Selby performance. I hope Hendry DOES NOT RETIRE, but Thank him for all he has done for our game, and wish him all the best in whatever he decides.I Will post a comment regardin the Ding .v. Bingham game, the game that decides if Hendry stays in the to 16, later, In you're piece called "HEND OF AN ERA" i hope it is not that though. I am sure, all of us in the snooker world, take the same view. Stephen Gordon Hendry, What ever happens, You, in my view, are a legend.

Higgins .v. McLeod - Srappy in parts but Higgins did well to win 13-7.

Murphy .v. O'Sullivan - A great showing from both, but O'Sullivan did great, From a 9-7 overnight lead, to lead 12-8, helped by two century breaks.

Murphy did well to clinch frame 21, after both had chances, 12-9. In frame 22,and after O'sullivan's bad miss in the previous frame, he lost the next. Murphy did fantastic, with great pots, to trail, 12-10. Frame 23, and O'Sullivan looking tense, missed a long pot. Murphy made a great 56, then missed a red. O'Sullivan made a great match- winning clearance, of 71, to win the match 13-10. Well done to both players in this match.

Now it's Higgins .v. O'Sullivan in the quarter final. I can not wait for that one.

On a final note, in my post here, I would like to say that it is great that the Late and Great, paul Hunter, is remembered at sheffield. It's 5 years in October ,this year, since he died, that has flown, A great player, A great man, sadly missed, never forgotten and fondly remembered. R.I.P. Paul Alan Hunter.

jamie brannon said...

Dave, you think Selby plays the game better than Hendry at his peak?

Have to say I was surprised to read this as you supported Hendry's recent view that no-one was playing better snooker than he did in the 1990's.

Selby played brilliant yesterday but was it any better than Hendry at his peak, like when he scored seven centuries in the 1994 UK final.

jamie brannon said...

Having read through the posts can see that you were not referring to Hendry at his peak, sorry.

The people who believe anyone can beat anyone at their best are wrong. Not everyone's A-games are of similar standing.

Not sure why I even asked the question to be honest.I remember recently reading your transcript with Pro Snooker Blog and said you would take a peak Hendry even over Williams, O'Sullivan and Higgins.

I thought it was a fascinating tactical duel between Higgins and O'Sullivan today.

If this week meets it's potential we could have the greatest championship ever, it's such a sexy line-up.