Stephen Hendry wasted little time in completing his demolition job on defending champion John Higgins to reach the quarter-finals of the World Championship for the 19th time.
Hendry won seven of the eight frames in last night’s second session – one in which Higgins arguably played the worst snooker of his career, definitely at the Crucible – and took only fifteen or so minutes to notch up the last frame he needed earlier this afternoon.
It continues a remarkable run from the seven-time champion, who had to qualify to even reach Sheffield and then compiled a majestic 147 break in his opening round fixture last weekend, but he was quick to play down his achievements afterwards, insisting that three matches isn’t really a run – I’d say it’s close enough, Stephen!
If he was to make it past the last 8 he would find himself in the one table set-up once again in his career, a stage of the tournament where anything can happen.
Hendry will certainly have his tail up and if he was to make it to the semi-final stage all the old memories of putting players to the sword in high intensity, pressure games could come flooding back.
Yet, for all his success so far he has still been rather inconsistent on the table.
The 43 year-old performed amazingly in both of his first sessions against Stuart Bingham and Higgins but circumstances masked the fact that he hasn’t played all that well on the other occasions.
He only needed two frames to get over the winning line against Bingham but almost lost four in a row against the Englishman at the outset of the second session, which would have put the cat amongst the pigeons, and, even though he dominated Higgins in their last 16 clash, his relatively poor play was overshadowed by an uncharacteristically woeful opponent.
Hendry’s quarter-final match will be against another Scot, Stephen Maguire, who comfortably defeated Joe Perry 13-7.
Maguire has put in solid shifts so far in the event and, having reached two ranking event finals in the last few months, will be confident in his own ability to at least match his personal best at the Crucible of the semi-finals.
Hendry may have got away with his below-par sessions up until now but, against Maguire, it is unlikely he will be as fortunate.
On the other side of the draw, Ryan Day kept Welsh eyes smiling with a 13-7 triumph over China’s Cao Yupeng.
After a torrid couple of seasons, Day looked superb in reeling off the final four frames for an impressive victory to book his third quarter-final in Sheffield – he’ll meet either countryman Matthew Stevens or Barry Hawkins next.
Two other second round clashes got under way with Ronnie O’Sullivan taking a 5-3 overnight advantage over Mark Williams in an intriguing early exchange while Ali Carter leads Judd Trump by the same scoreline in a battle of former runner-ups.
On a personal note, tomorrow I’ll be making the trip across the Irish Sea and will be at the Crucible until the conclusion of the quarter-finals. As it is my first time attending the famous venue, it’s safe to assume that I’m looking forward to it.