Bond shows final frame nerve to shock blackballed Hendry

NIGEL BOND held his nerve to cause a major upset by knocking Stephen Hendry out of the 888.com World Championship last night in one of the most dramatic matches in the tournament’s history.

The 40-year-old squandered a 7-3 lead by losing five consecutive frames, but dug in to take the first-round match to a decider that built to an incredible climax.

Amid scenes reminiscent of Dennis Taylor’s famous 1985 triumph over Steve Davis, the world number 26 sank the respotted final black to clinch a 10-9 victory, having gone in off when potting it first time round.

It meant a superb fightback from Hendry - seven times a winner of this title - had ultimately been unsuccessful as the man beaten 18-9 by the Scot in the 1995 final gained belated revenge.

Bond, however, could have avoided the tense finale. He had led 6-3 overnight, pinched today’s first frame on the black and was all set to go 8-3 ahead when he went in off the final green.

That allowed Hendry to win five consecutive frames to go 8-7 ahead, but Bond dug in to level it up before the next two frames were shared.

By this point the match was running beyond its allotted time, but the tournament organisers decided to delay the evening action to avoid a late-night single-frame shootout.

It was an extremely edgy affair, even before they got to the black, with both players missing pots and Hendry looking increasingly frustrated.

With Bond 48-41 ahead, having just potted blue and pink, he only needed to roll in the black, which was over a top pocket. But in doing so he sent the white ball into a middle pocket, giving Hendry an amazing reprieve after he had already unscrewed his cue.

After a short safety exchange, Bond was given another chance into the middle. This time Bond made no mistake to secure a second-round clash with Graeme Dott.

At the post-match press conference, Hendry uttered just six words. Asked if it was a cruel way to lose he replied: “I suppose.”

When asked where this defeat ranked compared to others in his career, he responded: “Along with all the rest.” Bond was understandably keener to express his thoughts: “I’m pretty much speechless. Some incredible matches crop up at the Crucible every now and again and this was another. I’m just delighted to be on the winning side of it. Stephen has given me a few pastings and it’s payback time.

“I was shaking when I potted the black the first time and as soon as I hit the shot I knew the white was going in. I think Stephen was a bit unfortunate towards the end but we both missed a lot of balls.”

Earlier, a focused Ronnie O’Sullivan beat Dave Harold 10-4. “The Rocket” was involved in no histrionics as he added breaks of 100 and 88 to the 139 and 106 he compiled yesterday.

“It’s nice to get the first round out of the way,” said the 30-year-old, who was recording his first success since losing the Masters final to John Higgins in January.

“I’m enjoying playing snooker at the moment and hopefully I can have a good run here. I’m pleased with my performance and all I can do now is concentrate on my own game.”

Six-time runner-up Jimmy White faces a battle to reach the second round after losing the first four frames to David Gray, before ending the session 6-3 down.

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