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Page last updated at 10:03 GMT, Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Hendry to face Williams in Worlds

Stephen Hendry plays a shot at this year's Masters
Hendry and Williams are good friends away from the table

Seven-time champion Stephen Hendry will face two-time champion Mark Williams in the pick of the first-round matches at this year's World Snooker Championship.

The Scot, who has endured a poor season, has possibly the hardest draw against the Welshman, who is outside the top 16 but came through qualifying.

Defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan will face one of his practice partners, Stuart Bingham, in the first round.

There is also an all-Chinese clash between Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo.

The match between world number two Stephen Maguire and his fellow Scot Jamie Burnett will also draw much attention.

World Snooker is still investigating the pair's meeting at the UK Championship in December, when several bookmakers stopped taking bets on a 9-3 scoreline, the margin by which Maguire won.

Six-time champion Steve Davis, who came through final qualifying, will face Australian Neil Robertson, who claimed his third ranking title in Bahrain in November.

Last year's runner-up Ali Carter, who won his first ranking title at the recent Welsh Open, plays Kent-based Northern Irishman Gerard Greene.


O'Sullivan will be seeking his fourth title at the Crucible, while there are four other former world champions in the draw as well as Hendry, Williams and Davis.

Another two-time champion, John Higgins, meets world number 34 Michael Holt, while 2005 winner Shaun Murphy comes up against Crucible debutant Andrew Higginson.

"I am sure John is quaking in his boots now," quipped Holt on hearing the draw. "He is one of the best players there has ever been, but there are no easy games and if I play well, I have a chance."

The 2002 world champion Peter Ebdon will play 1995 finalist Nigel Bond, while 2006 winner Graeme Dott meets world number 27 Barry Hawkins.

World number 12 Joe Perry, a semi-finalist last year, meets Jamie Cope, a runner-up in two ranking events who lost 10-9 to Ebdon in the first round last year.

"It's a very tough game," Perry told BBC Radio Sheffield, who conducted the draw. "Jamie is one of the up-and-coming stars of snooker and he is very dangerous and unpredictable. I'll have to be at my best to get past him."

The World Championship gets under way a newly-refurbished Crucible Theatre in Sheffield on Saturday, 18 April. It runs until 4 May.

Draw for the 2009 World Championship (starts 18 April):
(nationality and world ranking in brackets)

Peter Ebdon (Eng, 9) v Nigel Bond (Eng, 23)
Ali Carter (Eng, 7) v Gerard Greene (NI, 33)
Mark King (Eng, 15) v Rory McLeod (Eng, 44)
Graeme Dott (Sco, 13) v Barry Hawkins (Eng, 27)
Shaun Murphy (Eng, 3) v Andrew Higginson (Eng, 38)
Ding Junhui (Chn, 11) v Liang Wenbo (Chn, 40)
Stephen Hendry (Sco, 6) v Mark Williams (Wal, 22)
Ryan Day (Wal, 8) v Stephen Lee (Eng, 26)
Joe Perry (Eng, 12) v Jamie Cope (Eng, 19)
Mark Selby (Eng, 4) v Ricky Walden (Eng, 35)
Mark Allen (NI, 16) v Martin Gould (Eng, 63)
John Higgins (Sco, 5) v Michael Holt (Eng, 34)
Neil Robertson (Aus, 10) v Steve Davis (Eng, 29)
Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng, 1) v Stuart Bingham (Eng, 21)
Marco Fu (HK, 14) v Joe Swail (NI, 20)
Stephen Maguire (Sco, 2) v Jamie Burnett (Sco, 45)

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see also
Allen to face Gould at Crucible
11 Mar 09 |  Snooker
Davis revival seals Crucible spot
10 Mar 09 |  Snooker
Swail beats Couch to secure place
10 Mar 09 |  Snooker
Burnett to make Crucible return
09 Mar 09 |  Snooker
Lee nervous ahead of Trump test
09 Mar 09 |  Snooker
Couch ends Parrott's Crucible bid
04 Mar 09 |  Snooker
White fails in World qualifiers
02 Mar 09 |  Snooker
Carter storms to Welsh Open title
22 Feb 09 |  Snooker
Maguire waits for inquiry contact
11 Jan 09 |  Snooker
Maguire defends 'friend' Burnett
19 Dec 08 |  Snooker
Burnett match to be investigated
18 Dec 08 |  Snooker

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