Phil Haigh ✍️
Stephen Hendry may have played his last game on the World Snooker Tour after choosing not to enter the World Snooker Championship qualifiers, putting his future as a professional player in doubt.
The seven-time world champion was given a two-year invitational tour card at the start of last season, but his appearances have been sporadic since.
The Scot played just three matches last season and eight over this campaign, winning three times in total, memorably beating his old rival Jimmy White in Crucible qualifying last year.
He always said it would not be a full time comeback and that he would pick and choose his events, however, his tournament entries have dried up entirely and is also not competing at this week’s Gibraltar Open.
Hendry’s ultimate aim was to return to the Crucible and now that he has not met Monday’s deadline to enter the World Championship, it could be that his dream is over.
His two-year tour card expires at the end of this season, and while he could be handed another one, it is not clear whether it would be offered or accepted.
Hendry was speaking positively about his ongoing return to the baize at the start of the season, after beating Chris Wakelin in the first round of the British Open in August.
‘That’s the goal [playing at the Crucible], whether it’s this year, next year or the year after, I’m not putting any time limit on it,’ Hendry told Metro.co.uk.
‘If it doesn’t happen this year that’s not the be all and end all, but that’s the end goal. I’ve always said I don’t want that defeat to [Stephen] Maguire [in 2012] to be my last match at the Crucible, but there’s a long way to go to get there.’
‘If my game keeps improving there’s no need to suddenly stop playing again. I’ve not said I’m going to come back, start winning tournaments and be a top player again, I just want to get back to enjoy playing snooker, playing well and see what happens.’
On the prospect of being given another tour card, he admitted that he would need to be entering events to receive one, which means his decision on the World Championship could prove fatal.
‘I would hope I’d get another wildcard,’ he said in August. ‘Jimmy keeps getting them, nothing against Jimmy he’s one of my best mates, but I would hope that the fact I’m competing that I would get another one.
‘Barry [Hearn] did say to me that as long as I play then I’ll get one, the only reason he’d take it off me is if I didn’t play at all. I’m playing so I’d like to think I’d get one.’
The World Championship qualifiers begin on 4 April and will feature a host of big names including Ding Junhui, Stephen Maguire, Ali Carter, Jimmy White and Ken Doherty.
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This post appeared first on Snooker – Metro.