Rampant Hendry thrashes old foe Higgins to reach Crucible quarter-finals
15:07 GMT, 28 April 2012
Stephen Hendry completed a crushing 13-4 victory over John Higgins this afternoon to reach the quarter-finals of the Betfred.com World Championship.
The seven-time champion's long-awaited first Crucible encounter with his fellow Scot, a four-time winner in Sheffield, failed to live up the expectation that it would go close.
Higgins' game, which took him to
glory in the final against Judd Trump last May, looked to have
completely deserted him in the second-round contest.
Old guard: Stephen Hendry thrashed John Higgins 13-4 to reach Crucible quarter-finals
Higgins warned he was playing poorly as the tournament approached, but
it was hard to believe the Crucible environment would not bring the best
out of the 36-year-old from Wishaw.
And yet Higgins looked hopelessly
rusty in the second-round contest, missing most remotely difficult balls
and some utterly routine pots too. The same had applied in the first
round when he edged past Liang Wenbo in a deciding frame.
Out of it: John Higgins had no answer
Hendry, 43, would certainly not have expected to be gifted so many
openings, and to win his frames tonight he often needed several.
He finished off in style though with a polished break of 83, and needs
just one more frame tomorrow afternoon to reach the quarter-finals.
World No 23 Hendry admitted the one-sided nature of the match, and particularly the middle session, had surprised him.
He said: 'Last night was probably one of the strangest sessions of snooker I've played at the Crucible. I'm fortunate in the fact John's probably not played as bad in his life at the Crucible as he did last night.
'You feel lucky if you get one or two chances against John in a frame. I was getting at times four, five or six chances in a frame.
'And at times I was coming to the table in shock and not really knowing what to do because it was weird. But you've just to try to win the frames whatever way you can.
'If someone said I would beat John Higgins 13-4 I would say they were nuts before. I fully expected him to come out last night with all guns blazing. When his back's against the wall he plays normally his best snooker.
'So I was expecting a really big session, and really my goal last night was to hopefully have a lead still going into the final session or else be very, very close. In the end it just turned into a weird session of snooker.'
Eye on the ball: Hendry admitted the ease of the victory had surprised him
Higgins was puzzled by how he had played.
He said: 'I have no idea what happened last night. Stephen was very good in the balls, and looked back to his best especially in the first session.
'From 5-3 I thought it would be close, but I ended up dragging him down to my level. I can't describe how bad it was, really, really bad.
'I probably have played worse, but this place can do that to you. I have seen it, it can give you your best moments but also your worst nightmares.
'Even with how bad I was feeling I thought if I could get to 10-6 I had a chance, but I missed a pink and at 11-4 I knew it was over.
'You watch other matches and players and think 'How did they miss that', but when you're out there and it's going wrong you can see it coming.
'Everything was hard or difficult, even simple positional shots. It's a hard thing, a tough place when you're going through turmoil.'