Stephen Hendry saw off Jimmy White 6-3 in their eagerly-anticipated World Championship qualifier.
In a match that was high on nostalgia but low on quality, seven-time world champion Hendry eventually prevailed at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield to move within three matches of a Crucible return.
No one was expecting the giddy heights of their heyday, but there was an unavoidable dose of reality when the pre-match hype was replaced with a series of wayward and confusing shots from both players.
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White almost potted the cue ball with his opening break and while Hendry started with a peach of a red, his error-o-meter was soon whirring as the match failed to find any rhythm.
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The Whirlwind was first on the board and had an opportunity to snatch the second – Hendry left furious after missing a routine red into the left middle – but the 58-year-old was unable to capitalise as his old foe drew level.
White then appeared to have the third frame wrapped up, with Hendry chasing a snooker and just the pink and black to work with. But incredibly, Hendry pinned his opponent for a six-point foul, then wriggled out of trouble himself by potting the pink during a one-cushion escape.
Both players had chances on the final black before Hendry eventually put it away – the shot giving him seven points and, remarkably, his highest break of the entire frame – and quipped to referee Leo Scullion “you’ve got a long night ahead”.
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He was right. Although both players improved, Hendry taking the next two frames either side of the interval – including an overdue 53 break – the standard was still short of what many anticipated.
Hendry then swooped in with a magnificent break of 66, wiping out White’s first half century of the match and moving one from victory.
But White wasn’t quite done. He took the seventh and eighth – the latter despite bizarrely sitting down after making a shot – before his journey ended in the ninth as Hendry came home, swept into the second round of qualifying by a 52 break.
Hendry will next play world number 82 Xu Si.
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