Monday, January 7, 2008

Hendry escapes motorway smash; SNOOKER

Hendry escapes motorway smash; SNOOKER.(Sport)

STEPHEN HENDRY resumes his bid for a seventh Benson & Hedges Masters title tonight grateful to have the opportunity to face Ken Doherty in the last quarter-final of the pounds 615,000 event.

Hendry's Mercedes almost became involved in an accident that caused chaos for several hours on the M25.

Happily for the seven-times world champion and his driver John Carroll they were able to avoid the debris caused by a three-vehicle pile-up involving a mini-bus, a van and a loose trailer.

"It was a terrifying moment," admitted Carroll, who was driving the 31- year-old Scot back to Wembley following an engagement at a Bishop Stortford secondary school.

Hendry was shaken by the incident but returned to practice for his best of 11 frames showdown with Doherty, a repeat of their 1997 World Final meeting.

Doherty won that encounter to become Ireland's first ever World Snooker champ, but world number two Hendry is favourite to book a place in the last four and a meeting with Mark Williams or Stephen Lee.

After yesterday's upsets, including the defeat of former champion Ronnie O'Sullivan, Hendry will take nothing for granted.

But after his fortunate escape on the road maybe he feels Lady Luck is already on his side.

The penultimate quarter-final pits Williams against Lee two months after they faced each other in the quarter-finals of the China Open in Shanghai.

Lee won that encounter and Williams says he will be on his guard this afternoon.

"I suppose you could say that with Stephen reaching the finals of the last two ranking tournaments he must have the psychological edge," admitted Williams.

"But I love playing here, the Wembley Conference Centre is special.

"It's the best venue on the circuit by a long way and it makes you want to stay here as long as possible.

"I have got a good record against Stephen but that won't really count for a lot today."

Williams and Hendry are the only two players left in the competition who have won the tournament before.

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