Stephen Hendry reveals what's been most difficult and annoying about snooker return

January 24, 2023
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Phil Haigh ✍️  

2022 Cazoo British Open - Day 6
Stephen Hendry’s return to snooker continues, but has gathered no momentum (Picture: Getty Images)

Stephen Hendry says he has felt lost at the table during his return to professional snooker, but still insists it is not a comeback and any suggestion otherwise really annoys him.

The seven-time world champion retired back in 2012 but accepted an invitational tour card and returned to the pro ranks in 2020, making his competitive return at the Gibraltar Open in 2021.

Since then it has been it has been a stop-start return to competition, and mainly stop, with Hendry playing just three matches this season so far, losing all of them.

The 54-year-old is prioritising his punditry and commentary work, withdrawing from some events to focus on those commitments. He repeats what he has always said about his return to professional events, that it is not ‘ comeback’ but just the chance to play if he wants to.

‘It’s not a comeback, it never was a comeback,’ Hendry told the World Snooker Tour podcast. ‘Some people keep insisting it is and the haters on Twitter, they know who they are, keep saying when I withdraw…my TV commitments now are more important than playing snooker.

‘I’ve got a wildcard to play in events I want to play in, and that’s all I’m doing.’

Hendry was keen to qualify for the World Championships and walk out once again at the Crucible, but he admits that changes to standards, conditions and his lack of dedicated practice makes that unlikely at this stage.

‘My ambition for it, coming back, was to hopefully play a match at the Crucible again. That’s what it’s all about, but even that now, it’s so hard to dedicate myself to practice now because I did it for so long,’ he said.

‘I would need to play, even two hours a day five days a week is a struggle because you’re just not in that mindset.

‘I go to tournaments and invariably get beat 5-1, 5-0 because I haven’t prepared and you can’t expect to do anything. But it’s not a comeback, that word really annoys me.

‘My technique is not what it was. When I play on my own, I still play really really well, but you have to be out there. I’m so ring rusty in terms of competing in matches.

‘Safety play is one thing that’s improved so much since I was playing. My safety game was never my strong point so to bring that now, I’m really struggling.

‘Also the tables, when you’re not playing on these fast tables at all and you turn up, I’m a bit lost at the table.’

Hendry has not played since a 5-0 loss to Matthew Stevens in German Masters qualifying in November but it does not sound like he is hanging the cue up again just yet.

In fact, he still expects his game to click into gear, at least for one match, and someone to be on the wrong end of it.

‘Listen, one day I’ll turn up and beat someone, something will click on the day and I’ll beat someone,’ he said. ‘When or where that is I don’t know but it’s not a comeback, we’ll see where it goes.’

Hendry’s options to play competitively for the rest of the season are now extremely limited after the cancellation of the Turkish Masters. His next available event will be the World Championship qualifiers in April.

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