Stephen Hendry seems certain to beat Ding Junhui at the Crucible this afternoon and thus stop him from assuming his own mantle of youngest ever world champion.

Resuming 11-5 up, it's very unlikely Hendry will lose given the excellent form he is in.

Ding should have been no worse than 9-7 down but missed the black to win the 11th frame and frame ball red in the 15th.

Make no mistake, though: he is a man under intense pressure.

Ding is the standard bearer of the Chinese snooker revolution. Around 30 accredited Chinese journalists are at the Crucible and millions (and I do mean millions) are following it live on TV.

He won his three ranking titles before the close scrutiny he is now under began and seems to be struggling to cope with it.

What he needs - and what is happening with the emergence of Liang Wenbo and others - is more talented Chinese players doing well in the pro ranks to take some of the weight off his shoulders.

And what of Hendry?

He started the match with a century and made a vintage clearance to win that 15th frame. It was just like the old days.

Crucially, his concentration is back and, cueing as nicely as he is, he can beat anyone in the field.

Is an eighth world title on the cards?

There are still plenty of top class players left in the field who can prevent him but he must know that this is his big chance to land the game's top prize once again.


Anonymous said...

Pleased for Hendry. He has a great chance against Ryan Day. If he can beat Ding and Allen there's no reason why he can't beat Day.. whatever happens, he needed the ranking points.

andy said...

Ding was poor but it was good to see Hendry play some good snooker and beat Ding. Ding has to turn up for all 3 sessions to beat a top class player like Hendry, ...not just the last 2. I was disappointed with Ding and expected much more from him.

As for Hendry's record of youngest ever world champion being safe, ...well, what about Wenbo!? He's 21 and his birthday's in March, he could beat Hendry's record by a couple of months and is playing some brilliant stuff against Swail as I type!!

Yes yes, I know he hasn't won any kind of tournament as yet and made no real impact in the game, but neither had Dott, Murphy or Joe Johnson when they won the title. Just a thought :o)


Anonymous said...

I'm over the moon for Hendry.

We'll all be able to call him King Hendry VIII if he win's it again!