STEPHEN Hendry enjoyed one of his best results in recent years as he cruised to a 4-1 win over recently-crowned Masters champion Neil Robertson in the first round of the 888 Welsh Open in Newport.
The comprehensive victory must be considered the 43-year-old Scot’s best result since he beat Ding Junhui in the second round of the 2009 Betfred.com World Championship.
Hendry, the seven-time world champion who dropped out of the world’s top 16 earlier this season, won the first frame with a break of 62 before Robertson levelled with an excellent 135 total clearance. The Scot then won the final three frames to set up a second-round encounter with Mark Allen or Ken Doherty.
“I haven’t had much success against the top players in the last few years,” admitted Hendry. “I just played well, and when you do that you can compete. If you don’t you’ve got no chance. In the last frame I expected to get the jitters, but I felt really comfortable clearing up, and that pleased me more than anything.”
World No 2 Mark Williams had to come from behind three times to beat Andy Hicks 4-3 and set up a meeting with Ronnie O’Sullivan or Marco Fu. It was more straightforward for Stephen Lee, who overcame fellow Englishman Michael Holt 4-1, while Stuart Bingham beat Mark King 4-2.