Hendry 147 lights up Crucible
Stephen Hendry fired in a thrilling 147 maximum break on day one of the World Championship.
Hendry flew out to north-east China on Monday, visiting the city of Changchun near the North Korean border.
He only returned on Friday, after a round-trip of over 10,000 miles, but made light of the impact of the trip on his preparations after storming to an 8-1 lead against Stuart Bingham.
The 43-year-old Scot, seven times a world champion, joked last Sunday that playing with jet lag might help his game, after a difficult season in which he has struggled for results and been forced to qualify for this event.
And he had no regrets about the travelling, following a session in which he made a flurry of high breaks but none as memorable as the perfect clearance in frame seven which earns him £50,000 in bonus prize-money, providing nobody else matches the maximum, in which case the pot will be shared.
The 147 was the third Hendry has managed at the Sheffield venue, after previous efforts in 1995 and 2009. Ronnie O'Sullivan is the only other player with three Crucible maximums.
Hendry said: "I have a match still to win, but the 147 was probably one of my best, position-wise, and it was absolutely fantastic to make a third maximum at the World Championship.
"I felt really good out there, and the jet lag - well, sleep is for wimps. It's the new way, fly in to Sheffield the day before with no practice!
"That ties with me with Ronnie to have made three here, and I don't care what Mark Williams says about the Crucible, there is no better feeling than to make one here."
Hendry's remark about Williams was a response to the Twitter outburst yesterday from his friend, the two-time world champion, who rubbished the Crucible venue on Friday and said he hoped the World Championship would move to China.
Hendry cannot have dreamed he would play so well, and he requires just two more frames on Sunday to reach the second round.
His delight over the maximum was plain.
Hendry punched the air on potting the straightforward black to clinch the reward, and raised his glass of water as the crowd stood to acclaim his feat.
Ken Doherty and Neil Robertson, former world champions playing on the other side of the arena, stopped playing as Hendry moved close to the magical mark, and together with Bingham they offered their congratulations.
The 2009 maximum break against Shaun Murphy earned Hendry £157,000 but World Snooker have downgraded the prize fund for maximums, starting at £5,000 and rolling over by £5,000 per tournament.
Hendry had powered 3-0 in front, helped by breaks of 100 and 89. Bingham put a frame on the scoreboard, but Hendry was back to clean-potting ways with a 78 in the fifth frame, and 61 in the sixth made it 5-1.
Then came the maximum, the 11th of his career.
As Bingham kept presenting Hendry with chances, so Hendry kept inflicting punishment. Further breaks of 75 and 65 followed in the closing two frames of the session.
Robertson, champion two years ago, sped to a 7-2 lead over 1997 winner Doherty.
In the second frame Doherty threatened a 147 but missed the 14th red after taking 13 reds and blacks, breaking down on 104.
Doherty was 3-2 behind at one stage, but Robertson stepped up the pace and surged clear with centuries in each of the final three frames - 106, 108 and 100.
Earlier, 30-year-old former potato farmer David Gilbert surged 6-3 ahead of Martin Gould.
On Saturday evening defending champion John Higgins was locked in an absorbing battle with Chinese qualifier Liang Wenbo, and the four-time winner was in great danger of crashing out.
Higgins led 5-4 from the first session but Liang fought back to lead 8-6, needing three more frames to cause a sensational upset, a year after Judd Trump ousted the 2010 champion Robertson on the opening day.