STEPHEN Hendry just needed a single frame to knock out defending champion John Higgins earlier today.
Gaining a huge 12-4 lead overnight, a break of 64 in the opening frame of this afternoon’s session was enough to seal a thumping 13-4 win for the seven-times world champion.
“Last night was one of the strangest sessions of snooker I’ve played at the Crucible,” Hendry said in his post-match press conference.
“I’m fortunate that John has never played worse than that in his life. I was getting 5 or 6 chances a frame and sometimes I was coming to the table in shock and not knowing what to do. It was weird. If someone said I would beat John Higgins 13-4 I would’ve said they were nuts.
“Normally when he is behind he comes out all guns blazing, when his back is against the wall he comes out playing his best snooker. My goal last night was to have a lead and it turned into a weird session.”
Higgins, who has not won any silverware this season, admitted it was game to forget for him and said he will work even harder next season in a bid to regain his form.
“First of all I thought Stephen hit the ball tremendously well, he looked back to his best,” he said.
“I lost the first frame last night which I could’ve pinched and maybe that would have made a difference but after that I brought Stephen down. I couldn’t put my finger on why it was so bad.
“This season I’ve not done the right things and I’ve not deserved anything out of the game. Next year I’m going to try and rectify that and come back a more focused player and a better prepared player.”
Hendry will meet Stephen Maguire in the quarter-finals after the Scot booked his place in the last eight with a 13-7 win against Joe Perry.
Trailing 11-7 overnight Perry gave Maguire food for concern after winning the opening two frames of the session to reduce the deficit to 11-7.
But any hopes of a close finish were all over when Maguire took the next two frames and finished with a break of 79 to win by a comfortable six frames.
Last year’s runner-up Judd Trump will start tomorrow’s second session against Ali Carter 5-3 behind.
In a topsy-turvy session, Carter raced to a 2-0 lead before the Bristol man found his range and turned the session on its head to take a 3-2 lead.
A break of 72 from Carter levelled the contest before taking the final two frames of the session to take a handy two-frame lead overnight.
An under-par Trump will hope to play more of his A-game tomorrow in a bid to get back into the match.
Crowd favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan had the better of Mark Williams in the first session of their last 16 clash with The Rocket taking a 5-3 lead overnight.
The much-anticipated match did not disappoint. O’Sullivan hit two half-century breaks in consecutive frames to cancel out William’s win in a scrappy opener.
Williams though fought back as O’Sullivan missed a crucial pink to leave his opponent a chance to clear – which the Welshman did to level the scores at 2-2.
Williams pulled ahead to take a 3-2 lead but it was O’Sullivan who dominated the rest of the session winning the next frames to give him a two-frame advantage.
And Welshman Ryan Day booked his place in the quarter-finals with a 13-7 win over China’s Cao Yupeng.
Leading 6-2 overnight Day made a slow start this morning as Yupeng won three frames on the spin to go just a single frame behind at 6-5.
But Day rallied into with a century break of 112 to restore a two-frame advantage which he managed to hold at the end of the session.
When play resumed for the evening session, Day made his intentions clear as breaks of 113 and 53 put him firmly in the driving seat with an 11-7 lead.
All the momentum was with the Welshman and a run of 87 put him just one frame away from victory before a stunning clearance of 119 sealed his win.