How do you explain someone making a maximum in the opening frame of the match and then playing poorly for the rest of it?

It wasn’t the excitement of the 147 that saw Stephen Hendry lose focus. It was a reversion to recent type.

Hendry has been struggling for a couple of years but he still seems to start matches well before losing his way. It’s as if he gets himself pumped up for games but can’t sustain that intensity much past the first frame.

The maximum suggested that his problem is not one of technique but mental approach. However, his long game seemed to completely disappear as the match wore on and his performance was well below one that the great man would deem acceptable.

In some ways, if he just played badly all the time it would be easier for Hendry to accept his decline. He’s had a good innings and he could retire to the commentary box satisfied with his lot.

But the fact that he can still play well – very well – in spells is the frustrating part: it’s in there somewhere but how to stave off the lapses into mediocrity?

I don’t know if Hendry has ever consulted a sports psychologist but it might not be a bad idea.

The eight players remaining in the Wyldecrest Welsh Open are all ranking event winners and six are ranked in the top eight.

John Higgins and Mark Williams seem to have played the best snooker so far but the event remains wide open.

Last year, Stephen Maguire did a proper job on Williams in the quarter-final stage. It was good, old fashioned foot-on-the-throat snooker: he never let him see a ball.

The Scot hardly ever loses a first round match and is regularly in quarter and semi-finals but like any top player wants silverware, and hasn’t won a title for three years.

Matthew Stevens stuttered when close to the winning line before eventually edging out Ryan Day 4-3 yesterday.

He will have to cut out the unforced errors to stand a chance of dispatching Higgins, who looks fully determined.

Ding Junhui beat Mark Allen 4-3 from 3-1 down, a match played in a flat atmosphere with very few spectators watching. The Chinese is a joy to watch when in and scoring, playing with the same fluency and natural style as the game’s great break-builders.

However, Ali Carter is clearly a fan of Newport, having won the title there two years ago and reached the final last season.

It will be interesting to see Mark Selby’s approach against Graeme Dott. He admitted after their German Masters semi-final that he had gone into the match with a negative attitude and should have attacked more.

I always think Dott is dangerous, not just because he is obviously such a good player but because of his iron will to win.

We’re back to best of nines now, although clearly the best of seven format didn’t stop the cream once again rising to the top.


Anonymous said...

You would think the commentary box would be the last place a 7 times world champion would want to retire to.

Monique said...

I have the feeling that Hendry is putting himself under a lot of pressure and that as soon as he misses a couple of shots, negative thoughts become overwhelming and clutter his mind.
Not easy to fight though... confidence comes with winning and to win you need confidence.

This is not a suggestion that it should be adopted, just a thought, but maybe a shot-clock event, 20 second shot-clock, would see him fare better because it leaves no time to think too much about what could go wrong.

Anonymous said...

As a snooker player I can relate to what hendry is going through (somewhat, obviously i'm not as used to the sucess hendry has had).

For pro standard, 1 frame century doesn;t always mean they are cueing well, Ronnie v Day case in point also.

Pro's can make centurys or win matches when not hitting ball sweet as they can; or getting maximum follow through.

I think Dave hit the nail on head with its in the head of the player(but I dont agree that 147 means he's playing to his best) Its easy to get into a habit of letting the thought process focus on negatives.

Whatever the level getting the head right can be massive to make difference of winning/losing. Its a matter of keeping the thought process positive (EASIER SAID THAN DONE, i know!)

Anonymous said...

typical ronnie fan, obsessed with shot clocks

shot clocks are mickey mouse snooker. entertaining, yes, but geared around ONE SPOTLIGHT KID PLAYER. guess what ronnie that is....

kimball said...

It is well known that a fullmoon
can have a sudden and dramatic im-
pact on people.

Redandblackblog said...

I think there is a general trend for players getting 147's then struggling in the proceeding frames. It would be interesting to know the stats, is Phil Yates on here? Obviously Hendry has issues in his own right and agree, perhaps a sports psychologist would be the answer although he's not a player i'd imagine would go down this route to be honest. When Davis initially stopped winning were his performances a bit patchy like this as well as I can't remember?

Dave H said...

There is but I think there was more to it than that with Hendry. At the UK he started with a ton against Jimmy and then the standard plummeted almost immediately.

Anonymous said...

Is there a time delay on Eurosport pictures to commentaries on matches covered by Mike Smith?
He seems belatedly surprised (as do his co-commentators) if a ball is missed and also late in giving praise for a good/great shot.
I never notice this delay on anyone else commentating?
Are they seeing pictures slower than the viewer at home?
If so its quite annoying on an otherwise superb channel for snooker.

Anonymous said...


dave doesnt usualy "give the game away" or answer questions about euro commentators and where they are at time of comments.

perhaps he will answer you fully. his choice, obviously.

kimball said...

Still, in my opinion, Hendry played very well against Selby
in Germany, hitting the ball sweeter and better than for a long
time.Ok, he lost but had the chans to go 4-3 up.
The breakdown agaist Maguire is hard to understand but as Hendry
has said many times:" it is all in the head"

Anonymous said...

I agree with kimball, Hendry did play well in german masters, let's not forget he lost to Selby who got to the final.
But the breakdown against Maguire is completely understandable: the exact same thing happened to Hendry in the world championship quarterfinal against Murphy in 2009. Hendry played great untill he made the maximum, and then lost almost every frame of the session - the maximum just made him loose concentration.

Anonymous said...

11.48PM - there was only one more frame of that session against Murphy.

kimball said...

Well 5-2 against Murphy became 5-6
or such.

ColinM said...

Stephen was asked about the 147 after the match and said "who cares?" Well this snooker fan does - it was the first 147 I've ever witnessed live...and I have watched 1000s of frames of snooker. So...thanks Stephen...great break!! I knew he would get it from the second black.

I'm sure he does care really....after all, he equalled Ronnie's record of competitive 147s with this one.