Benson and Hedges Masters

Stephen Hendry kept his cool to defeat crowd-pleaser Jimmy White last night to reach the semi-finals of the #650,000 Benson and Hedges Masters.

White's wait for another Masters title goes on after Hendry kept his composure in the Wembley Centre Conference cauldron to record a 6-4 win.

The 32-year-old Scot expected a rough ride from a partisan audience which had come to cheer London's favourite snooker son.

He was not disappointed. Increased security was the order of the day, and tournament director Jim Elkins confirmed at least two spectators had been ejected.

Referee Alan Chamberlain did his best to keep order as a number of interruptions affected both players, including two distractions as the match drew to an end.

However, the Wembley roar eventually died in the throats of the White fan club as Hendry moved into a last-four meeting against Leeds' Paul Hunter.

''The crowd were fantastic,'' he said sarcastically, rounding off another Masters comeback with a 44 clearance and a clenched-fist victory salute to a crowd of 1,649.

''It always gives me great pleasure to win here,'' added the world No.3, who ruled supreme at Wembley during the 90s when he reeled off five successive Masters victories.

Hendry has now scored five wins at White's ''home'' venue, but the 32-year-old Scot admitted: ''I didn't play to a very high standard, but I won the frames that mattered.

''It was a great clearance, though, at the end. Had it gone 5-5 it would have been anyone's match in the last frame.''

Hendry had trailed 3-1 and was perhaps just one ball from going 4-1 down. However, White failed to convert a routine red, and Hendry's 45 break began a recovery that brought him five of the next six frames.

''It wasn't the ideal situation to be 3-1 down at the interval,'' agreed Hendry, who trailed teenager Shaun Murphy in his previous outing.

''I'll have to start a lot quicker in my next match,'' added the Masters favourite.

Hendry drew level at 3-3 with a break of 54, and then his 519th career century took him 4-3 in front. White should have won the eighth but spurned another opportunity, and although the Londoner took the ninth, Hendry came from 52-22 down when White missed another red to clinch his semi-final berth.

Fergal O'Brien achieved one of the most satisfying results of his career by defeating fellow Irishman Ken Doherty, the recently crowned Welsh Open winner, 6-2 to book a last-four place against Dave Harold.

O'Brien, a last-16 winner against Mark Williams, the world champion and world No.1, made the perfect start. He knocked in breaks of 84, 64 and 61 to lead 3-0 while Doherty managed only four points in reply. O'Brien ground out a

46-minute fourth frame to reach the interval 4-0 ahead and there was no way back for Doherty..