Hendry wins Battle Of The Legends
Stephen Hendry defeated Jimmy White 6-3 in the first qualifying round of the Betfred World Cup when he took the stage at the biggest snooker tournament for the first time since 2012.
Hendry prevailed against an epic rivalry between these two legends in the 1990s – he won four Crucible finals – and he prevailed again tonight. After a nervous opening, Hendry chose the match and made fewer mistakes than his opponent, causing more misery for White, who may now face relegation from the Tour.
The 52-year-old Scottish Hendry has to win three more games at the English Sports Institute in Sheffield to make it to the nearby melting pot. However, he will go into the second round on Wednesday evening with the satisfaction of Chinese Xu Si won a professional match for the first time in nine years.
How to watch
White, 58, could lose his pro status if other results speak against him. He would then have to rely on a trip to the Q School or a new inviting tour card if he wanted to compete on the racetrack next season.
London White won a scratchy opening frame, then Hendry took the second with breaks of 37 and 34. The third frame lasted 43 minutes and came down to the colors. Hendry got the snooker he needed on the pink and tapped – after a safety swap on the black – on a top corner in a medium range pot to lead 2-1.
That was a turning point when Hendry took a 53 break to lead 3-1 and then beat a fragmented fifth frame to extend his lead. White seemed ready to pull one back until he missed a red hit in the top corner at 58, and Hendry punished him with an excellent 66 clearance to make it 5-1.
White fought his way back, pausing 58 when he took frame seven, then added eighth for 5-3. But Hendry controlled the ninth and sealed the win with a run of 52.
"I'm not happy with the way we both played. I was hoping we'd both play well and it would be a great game." There was a lot of tension, Jimmy looked great, ”said Hendry, who made his World Cup debut in 1986 and played his 100th match in the tournament tonight.
“I tried to relax and enjoy the occasion. The result probably meant more to Jimmy than to me. If you look back on the finale we played, we both had natural, fluid cue actions. Tonight it was stuttered and staggered, our average shot time felt like about four minutes.
“The only time I found a rhythm was when I made the clearance to make it 5-1. Something kicked in in me – this instinct to pinch a frame. And I won a frame when I needed a snooker – this is a collector's item! So there were a few small highlights and I have to be happy with the win. The rhythm that I have on the training table is not included in the match yet. There were only a handful of shots that I hit well tonight.
"I don't think I scared anyone with that performance and I'll be the underdog again in my next game." I'll just enjoy it and keep my expectations low. It's too early for me to qualify for the Crucible. Every match is a bonus and it helps me get used to being out there. The next season will be a different matter because I'll have more competitive snooker under my belt.
“Who knows, I could come back on Wednesday and play a role. But there are flaws in my game that don't last more than four games. My current goal is just to improve myself. "
James Cahill, who defeated Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Crucible two years ago, beat Sean Maddocks 6-1 with top breaks of 60, 63 and 75.