King Hendry

Stephen Hendry rolled back the years with a phenomenal performance to lead Stuart Bingham 8-1 after the opening session of their first round encounter at the World Championship.

But a superb opening day will be remembered for the Scotsman’s third Crucible maximum.

In doing so, he equals Ronnie O’Sullivan’s record in Sheffield as well as matching the Rocket’s eleven career 147s as their intriguing battle to see who can compile the most continues.

Many believed, including himself probably, that Hendry’s best days were well and truly behind him but his form and attitude is in stark contrast to this time last year.

During 2011’s event, the seven-time world champion was seriously considering quitting the game as his Top 16 place came under threat and he struggled to string together consecutive victories.

In the end, the 43 year-old did lose his place in the elite bracket of the world rankings, forcing him to return to the doldrums of the qualifying cubicles for the first time in almost 25 years.

However, this has inadvertently aided his return to competitiveness.

While many top professionals appear unable to cope with the mundane, lonely conditions of the qualifying tournaments following years of high-flying success in front of big crowds, Hendry has knuckled down and simply got on with the job at hand.

Almost a case of a bruised ego, Hendry now appears intent on an attitude of “well, if I’m going down, I’m going down fighting”.

Since, he has only failed to qualify for a tournament on one occasion and the more frequent victories have bred renewed confidence in his own ability.

Like all the top players as they approach the twilight of their careers, the good game is still in there somewhere but it’s the consistency that falls by the wayside.

That may also be the case over the course of the next couple of weeks as, even in the amazingly good form he displayed today, it is hard to see him maintaining that for five matches and umpteen sessions of hell-bent snooker.

But for now, who cares! There’s nothing quite like seeing an old champion producing glimpses of his heyday and we certainly caught more than just a fleeting glance this afternoon.

The maximum itself was almost effortless and his raised clenched fist at the end, followed by an evidently joyous smile as he raised his glass in salute of the crowd, showed just how much it meant to be back in the limelight.

There’ll only be one King of the Crucible.

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