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Hendry Comes Through Nail-Biter

 Hendry at Crucible

Stephen Hendry produced another great display of composure under severe pressure from 18-year-old debutant Anda Zhang to progress 10-9 in the World Snooker Championship.

Two years ago Hendry had to fight back from 9-7 down against Mark Allen to progress from round one and he produced another stirring performance.

They resumed with Hendry holding the smallest of advantages but that was soon wiped out when Zhang hit an 86 to level the match score. Hendry used all his experience to keep his opponent virtually scoreless in the next two frames, a top run of 65 allowed the seven-time champion to move two frames in front.

However the 18-year-old has shown remarkable composure to make it this far, winning four matches to qualify he hit back to take the next four frames to lead 9-7 including a break of 76.

The contrast in experience at this famous venue between the two players is vast. Hendry is the most decorated player the game has ever seen and knows the Crucible perhaps better than any other player. Zhang, is in his first season on the Main Tour and has yet to taste success at the top level.

Hendry though thrived in the most intense of atmospheres when he dominated in the nineties and he responded like the champion of old, an 89 brought him back to 9-8 behind after Zhang had missed a black of the spot.

Frame eigthteen was tense but Hendry showed the composure that has seen him collect 36 ranking event titles, a vital break of 52 setup a final frame decider.

The 40-year-old had the first chance but missed a red on 34, it proved not to be costly as Zhang didn't take advantage and a mightily relieved Hendry booked a second round match with a run of 55.

He'll have time to recover from his first round efforts, his match with Mark Selby starts on Sunday 23 April.

Post Match Reaction

Stephen Hendry

Well this is my 25th appearance at the Crucible, and it's remarkable the amount of times that I've produced stuff like that when I've needed to. I just seem to find something from somewhere. At 9-7 down I had my retirement speech ready for the press.I just felt that this sums it all up, at the end of a poor season, losing in the first round at the Crucible.

But like I said earlier, at 9-7 down something clicked, I dont where it came from but if I could produce that form more often I would be competing for titles, instead of producing it in two and three frame spurts.

I definately would have thought about retiring during the summer if I' have lost this match. It's been a poor season, I'm just struggling on and it's just frustrating not producing good snooker.

When Zhang missed that black off the spot at 9-7, I could smell blood and from then on I played great. At 9-8 down I felt there was only one winner, and I felt like winning the last frame in one visit but the reds didn't open so I had to be patient.

I thought Zhang was phenominal, he showed no nerves. Obviously he had nothing to lose and you can raise your game,but by the same token he could have froze out there.Yesterday I played some of my best safety, and he just kept knocking in balls from tight under the baulk rail. I was sat in my chair thinking thats wahat I used to do when I was eighteen. Amongst the balls he never looked like missing.

I'll get some sleep and start preparing for my next match tomorrow, I'm just so relieved not to be driving home tonight.

Anda Zhang

I was very pleased with my performance thoughout the match. I learned so much from the game, I liked the atmosphere but was so focused on the match I didn't notice the pressure. It was an honour to play Stephen as he is the biggest name in snooker.

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19th April 2010, 11:12
Page updated 19th Apr 2010, 11:12
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