I suppose the day had started quietly enough with the morning session.Defending Champion John Higgins finished the session with a 5-4 lead over Liang Wembo promising the possibility of a first round shock in the night session and David Gilbert played some nice snooker in taking a 6-3 lead over former world quarter finalist Martin Gould.
The afternoon was to be a different matter however. with Neil Robertson taking on Ken Doherty and Stuart Bingham playing Crucible legend Stephen Hendry.it's hard to believe it's been twenty yrs since Hendry won an amazing 10 frames in a row to come from 14-8 down and lift the second of his 7 World titles breaking the heart if Jimmy White and his supporters in the process.I think its fair to say that although admired for his ability at that time not many held a special place in their hearts for the "Wonder Bairn",That of course has changed now and as the underdog and elder statesman in the game Hendry is beginning to find himself receiving the same affection that Steve Davis has in the autumn years of his career.
The question was could he once again produce some form in the arena he prowled around as his own for nearly a decade.The crowd only had to wait for the 7th frame to get there answer a Hendry clicked into autopilot mode to roll in as perfect 147 as you are ever likely to see.The fist pump at the end said it all as the crowd his opponent and the players from the other table came to salute the 10th maximum in Crucible history.Riding on the crest of the wave he went on the finish the session with an all but unassailable 8-1 lead.
On the other table the battle of the former world champions had threatened to ignite th tournament itself as Doherty missed the 14th red in the second frame with his own maximum in sight. As the session went on however Robertson found his rhythm and reeled in three consecutive centuries to take a 7-2 lead into tomorrows final session.
Onto tonight then and conclusion of Higgins -Wembo match..They say anyone can win playing there best but the true measure of a champion is winning when not at your best,That phrase has rarely applied to anyone more the Higgins as he once again showed all his battling qualities to prevail 10-9 over the gutsy Chinese in a good old fashioned Crucible cracker.It had looked for all the world like w were on for a shock a wenbo lead fought back from his first session deficit to lead 8-6 but Higgins knocked in a 133 break as he gritted his teeth to claw back to 8 all and then take the next to go 9-8.Wenbo was not giving up without a fight though and showed he had the stomach for the fight with a good 75 to force the decider,This frame had it all.wenbo in potting the opening red called a push shot on himself to leave Higgins in and it looked for all the world like he was clearing for victory only to miss a red to the centre.Wenbo fought back to lead 52-44 only to miss a double on the second last red and A clearly releaved Higgins cleared to pink to move into the second round.
In tonights other game Mark Allen also has a real fight on his hands against a Chinese opponent as he trails Crucible debutant Cao Yupeng 5-4.
So there we have it ,what a first day and like all the best drama's we are left with more questions then answers at the end of it.Can Hendry really sustain this form for the whole tournament?Will now the shackles of the first match have come off can Higgins have a real go at taking a fifth world title? and has the spotlight shining on these two greats taken the spotlight off probably the most impressive player today Neil Robertson? We still have another 16 days of this left so luck or judgement lets just be thankful for Barry and his snooker roadshow!