Stephen Hendry has revealed he is ready to continue playing snooker at the highest level for the rest of the decade like fellow icon Jimmy White.
Hendry admits his ultimate dream is to return to the Crucible Theatre by qualifying for the World Championship, scene of his greatest victories in 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1999 – and will accept another World Snooker wildcard in future if he feels like there is room for improvement.
World number 65 Chris Wakelin gave Hendry a glimpse of how difficult the search for success could be in a quite majestic display of attacking snooker on Tuesday night with knocks of 141, 135 and 85 restricting to the Scotsman to only 18 points in four frames of a 4-0 win in the English Open last 64.
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"I'm enjoying the process, my game is improving all the time on the practice table," said the seven-times world champion, who is competing on the second year of a two-year invitational wildcard with White extending his golden 41-year career via similar playing privileges.
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"I know that kind of means nothing, but when I first started with (my coach) Stephen Feeney, I wanted to get back to enjoying playing snooker again even if it was on the practice table.
The ultimate goal is to play one more match at the Crucible. To qualify for that would be incredible. All these matches are part of the process, and getting me comfortable in arenas again.
"One thing you never stop missing as a sportsman is the buzz you get from a crowd. I'm enjoying the process," Hendry told Eurosport.
Hendry did little or nothing wrong in losing to Wakelin, an opponent he defeated 3-2 in the British Open in August, but admitted to reporters he took the performance as a "compliment".
English Open last 64 results
- Sunny Akani 4-3 Ricky Walden
- Chris Wakelin 4-0 Stephen Hendry
- Jamie Clarke 4-0 Mark Joyce
- Fergal O'Brien 4-3 Stuart Bingham
- Lu Ning w/o Allan Taylor
- John Higgins 4-0 Oliver Lines
- Mark Davis 4-3 Graeme Dott
- Robbie Williams 4-1 Soheil Vahedi
- Paul Deaville 4-3 Chang Bingyu
- Judd Trump 4-2 Jimmy Robertson
- Barry Hawkins 4-3 Jak Jones
- Ross Muir 4-1 Wu Yize
- Mark Selby 4-1 Jamie Wilson
- Zhao Xintong 4-0 Xu Si
- Steven Hallworth 4-2 Xiao Guodong
- Kyren Wilson 4-2 Ashley Carty
- Mark King 4-0 Cao Yupeng
- Anthony McGill 4-0 Gerard Greene
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