Stephen Hendry has revealed he intends to continue his playing comeback next season if he is granted another wild card by the World Snooker Tour professional circuit.
The seven-time Crucible winner prompted wild speculation that he was set to retire for a second time in a decade after opting out of the World Championship qualifiers at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield (4-13 April LIVE on Eurosport) only 12 months after returning following a nine-year absence.
But Hendry admits he would have had little chance of realising his dream of coming through four rounds to qualify for the sport's biggest event a decade after first quitting following a 13-2 drubbing by fellow Scot Stephen Maguire in the 2012 quarter-finals.
Top 10 shots of 2021/22: No. 3 – Williams creates Crucible magic with thrilling yellow
“I still intend to play, and hopefully I can play some events next season. I enjoyed being back out there," said Hendry, working as an ITV pundit at the elite eight-man Tour Championship in Llandudno.
“The British Open was a highlight, winning a match in front of a packed crowd..that was a great atmosphere and great fun. So it is not over yet..and there is still a little bit of fire in the belly.
I didn’t enter the World Championship qualifiers because I hadn’t been practising enough. And as I have found in some of the matches I have played, if you don’t put the work in then you won’t do yourself any justice.
“I have no expectations of winning tournaments but just want to be a bit competitive. And I didn’t want to turn up to the World Championship not having played much, probably lose 6-0 or 6-1 and everyone says ‘What are you doing?’ So I chose to leave it this year.”
'One from the archives' - Hendry makes fantastic brown to win frame
- Hendry: 'Winning machine' Robertson will be judged on world titles
- 'That will hurt' – Hendry on why Williams will be haunted by another brutal defeat
- Tour Championship 2022 - Latest scores, results, schedule, order of play
Hendry accepted a two-year wild card from former WST chairman Barry Hearn at the outset of the 2020/21 season and is likely to be granted an extension for services to the sport ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.
Despite making his 776th career century, he marked his return with a 4-1 defeat to close friend Matthew Selt in the 2021 Gibraltar Open first round last March.
Hendry had stated his main aim was to return to the Crucible, the scene of his finest moments in the sport when he embarked upon his comeback after working with much-lauded SightRight coach Stephen Feeney.
But the 36-time ranking event winner has opted against playing as he continues his work as a TV pundit away from the table with the 46th World Championship at the Crucible staged between 16 April-2 May LIVE on Eurosport.
The 53-year-old won 70 matches from 90 played at the Crucible between 1986 and 2012 when he appeared 27 times and lifted the world trophy on seven occasions in 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1999.
‘You have to write off the first year’ – O’Sullivan on Hendry comeback
He defeated fellow wild card competitor Jimmy 'Whirlwind' White 6-3 in the world qualifiers last April in an eminently forgettable contest, the man he toppled in four world finals, but lost 6-1 to Xu Si in the second round. This season has brought little joy.
Despite wins over Chris Wakelin (3-2) at the British Open and Michael White (4-1) at the English Open, Hendry has not gone beyond the last 64 of six events entered.
He last played a competitive match on the main tour in November, losing 6-1 to Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in the first round of the UK Championship when the Thai speed merchant compiled five century breaks and two half-centuries to illustrate the challenges ahead.
Ronnie O'Sullivan needs one world title to equal Hendry's haul of seven, but will overtake him as the Sheffield venue's most prolific match winner since the inception of the modern televised era in 1977 if he reaches the quarter-finals this year.
O'Sullivan stands on 69 wins from 92 matches played between 1993 and 2021.
Stephen Hendry: Key records
- Ranking title wins: 36
- World titles: 7
- UK titles: 5
- Masters titles: 6
- Crucible match wins: 70
- Crucible win percentage: 77.78%
- Career win percentage: 68.54%
- Crucible centuries: 156
- Career centuries: 776
- Crucible 147s: 3
- Career 147s: 11
- Years as World No. 1: 9
- Age winning first ranking title: 18 (1987 Grand Prix)
- Age winning first world title: 21 (1990 World Championship)
- Age winning last ranking title: 36 (2005 Malta Cup)
Llandudno to host Welsh Open LIVE on Eurosport
Top 10 shots of 2021/22: No. 4 – Yan enjoys deadly double in Berlin
Share this article