Bahrain Championship Latest: Superb Hendry into quarters

This afternoon saw Stephen Hendry come up against Barry Pinches while Michael Holt took on Robert Milkins, click below to read all about the two matches…

Stephen Hendry 5-1 Barry Pinches

Stephen Hendry continued his excellent form so far this week to defeat Barry Pinches 5-1 and reach an astonishing 119th ranking event quarter-final today.

It was Pinches who made the better start however as following an early re-rack, got in first with a break of 86 to take the frame in one visit.

Hendry, who had beaten Pinches in all of their past three meetings, soon got his name on the scoreboard with a break of 55 though and despite a poor missed red to left centre in the next, his 65 break proved to be enough to go 2-1 ahead.

This became 3-1 at the interval as breaks of 48 and 45 turned out to be frame winners. Despite these breaks though, the most impressive shot of the frame and ultimately the most important was a beautiful snooker laid by stunning in behind the blue. With a red over the pocket, Pinches was in all sorts of trouble and though he hit it at the second attempt, he could not get it safe and that was decisive.

While Pinches had a chance or two before the interval, Hendry showed no mercy in frame five as a terrific long red set him up for a break of 81 to win the frame in one visit. It was a similar story in the next as a great safety shot from Stephen forced the error and Hendry didn’t need a second chance, sealing a 5-1 win with his 722nd career century break.

After a tricky start to the season this is now four straight wins for Hendry if you include his Premier League matches and he looks visibly more confident than he has done in a while. Just watching him play at the moment he seems incredibly focused, just like he did at the World Championship back in April. I would say though that he is actually playing better now than he did at the Crucible and looks something like his old self again which is great to see. With 2,500 ranking points in the bag now, he has certainly done his provisional ranking a lot of good, but he’ll be more bothered about the chance to win that elusive 37th ranking event title at the moment. If he can continue playing like he has in his first two matches here, he will take some stopping…

Michael Holt 4-5 Robert Milkins

Awaiting Hendry in the quarter-finals is Robert Milkins who completed a remarkable comeback this afternoon to defeat Michael Holt 5-4.

Coming into the match following a great first round win over Jamie Cope, it was Holt who started the match in brilliant form with breaks of 78, 105, 55 and 58 to lead 4-0 at the interval.

Milkins scored just 49 points in these frames and facing such a mountain to climb when play resumed, can’t have been expecting too much, but gave himself something to build from with a break of 49 to take frame five.

From here it was one way traffic as further breaks of 44, 37, 66 brought him level before another run of 66 in the decider completed a brilliant comeback.

This is an amazing result for Milkins who came into the tournament sitting in 71st position in the latest provisional rankings. Having now won five matches in this tournament, against some very good players, he will take a minimum of 2,500 points from the event and has done his chance of staying on the tour for another season a lot of good. Next up in this tournament however is a match against Stephen Hendry.

Michael Holt must be absolutely gutted though, after his first round match he said:

“I’ve had good moments in my career before, but as an all-round package this season has been the best I’ve ever played,” said Holt, who has never been beyond the quarter-finals of a ranking event. “I’m hitting the ball better than ever and I have improved a lot mentally. I’m handling things which go against me on the table a lot better.

He will be disappointed therefore not only to lose the match in this manner, but to miss out on the chance to reach his first ranking event semi-final and boost his own provisional ranking. I can only hope that losing like this does not affect his form for the rest of the season because until now he has actually looked a much more stable player.

Rob Milkins 5-4 Michael Holt 20-79(78), 1-106(105), 28-79(55), 0-65(58), 84(49)-4, 65(44)-1, 60(37)-27, 67(66)-19, 67(66)-0

Barry Pinches 1-5 Stephen Hendry 92(86)-0, 4-75(55), 12-117(65,52), 6-98(48,45), 0-81(81), 6-106(106)