Stephen Hendry rolls back years with a maximum break

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GOLDEN oldie Stephen Hendry proved that age is no barrier as he made sure this year’s World Championship kicked off with a bang over the weekend.

The green baize legend pocketed a memorable maximum 147 break at snooker’s spiritual home to light up this year’s £1.1m tournament.

It was a vintage display from the 43-year-old seven-time world champion as he pocketed himself a welcome £50,000 bonus for achieving the magnificent feat if it is not bettered over the next 15 days.

And the Scot’s total clearance masterclass was the perfect start to a 10-4 victory in what promises to be a gripping tournament.

His achievement was all the more commendable having flown back from a promotional tour on China, giving himself less than 24 hours to recover from jet-lag before his opening match. It was Hendry’s third Crucible maximum and saw him equal Ronnie O’Sullivan’s three 147s at snooker’s biggest event

“That 147 was probably one of my best, it was absolutely fantastic to make a third maximum at the World Championship,” said Hendry. “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!”

It proved to be a good weekend for Scottish compatriot John Higgins as the defending champion clinched a courageous 10-9 win over Chinese qualifier Liang Wenbo.

There were two upsets yesterday as David Gilbert, a former part-time potato farmer, clinched a shock 10-8 victory over Martin Gould, the world No 12.

And then Ulsterman Mark Allen, a former Crucible semi-finalist, slipped to a 10-6 defeat to Cao Yupeng.

Today triple world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan begins his quest for a fourth Crucible crown against Peter Ebdon. The pair last faced each other at the Crucible in an infamous 2005 quarter-final clash where the ‘Rocket’ imploded with Ebdon accused of deliberately long play. Ahead 8-2 O’Sullivan crashed to a 13-10 defeat.

Weekend 1st rnd results: John Higgins beat Liang Wenbo 10-9, David Gilbert beat Martin Gould 10-8, Cao Yupeng beat Mark Allen 10-6, Neil Robertson beat Ken Doherty 10-4 .

Latest scores: Stephen Maguire leads Luca Brecel 6-3, Shaun Murphy leads Jamie Jones 5-4.

Today’s 1st rnd matches (all best-of-19 frames)- 10am: Maguire 6-3 Brecel - to a finish; Matthew Stevens v Marco Fu - max of nine frames; 2.30pm: Murphy 5-4 Jones - to a finish; Ronnie O’Sullivan v Peter Ebdon; 7.30pm: Stephen Lee v Andrew Higginson - max of nine frames; Stevens v Fu - to a finish.