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Tuesday, May 4, 1999 Published at 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK


Sport

Seventh title for Hendry

Stephen Hendry: The Scot enhances his already legendary status

Stephen Hendry confirmed his position as one of snooker's immortals after claiming his seventh World Championship with an 18-11 victory over Welshman Mark Williams at The Crucible in Sheffield.


Mark Williams: "I enjoyed every minute"
"This is worth more to me than other six championships put together," said the jubilant champion.

"This is my finest hour in snooker without a doubt. I've been in the doldrums for a couple of years and wondered if I would ever win another title.

"But I slowly got my game back together and I couldn't have had a tougher draw than this week."


[ image: Mark Williams: Failed to produce his best when required]
Mark Williams: Failed to produce his best when required
The loser was left to reflect on a tournament in which he hit new highs, except for the final

"I tried my best in this game and I thought there were a couple of frames on the first eight that I was unlucky to lose.

"But in the final session I have to be honest and say there was absolutely nothing left in my tank."

The Scot, who entered the final session of the final needing just three frames to take the title, won the first two to put himself on the brink of history.

As he had during the entire match, the former World No 1 capitalised on Williams errors to make frame clinching breaks.

Hendry, who enjoyed what little good fortune available during the two day final, had to wait a little while longer to confirm his victory, as Williams staged a courageous fightback in the 27th frame, with a break of 89 which included 12 reds and 11 blacks.

Scrappy

And Williams won the next frame, a scrappy affair, by 73-67 to close the gap to six frames.

But his new found success was based on adrenaline rather design, and when a break of 40 in the next frame was broken by another missed pot, Hendry needed no second invitation, as he rattled away a superb break of 88 to create snooker history.

His seven titles make him the most successful player in the modern era, eclipsing the record previously held by Steve Davis and Ray Reardon of six.

This triumph is arguably the greatest of his career, having been written off earlier in the season after a series of damaging defeats at the hands of lesser opponents.

Encouraging

His form in the weeks leading up to the World Championships was encouraging, and he showed glimpses of his old self in the victory over James Wattana.

But it was his semi-final with the exciting Ronnie O'Sullivan which remains the highlight of the tournament.

Hendry traded shots with a player he himself described as the most talented player in the world, and held firm as his opponent looked to dominate.

Demonstration

Confirmation of Hendry's return to form came against Williams, the man who had defeated the reigning champion John Higgins with a superb demonstration of potting.

Williams never managed to take the lead in the match, and Hendry's combination of strong safety and a clinical approach to frame winning positions saw him win each of the first three sessions by five to three.

The 29-year-old Hendry, who promised straight after victory to come back and defend his title next year, picked up £230,000 for his toils, while the loser's reward of £135,000 might soften the blow of having not performed to his best during the biggest occasion of his career.



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