Stephen Hendry was humbled by 17-year-old Gao Yang in a German Masters qualifier as his snooker comeback plumbed new depths.
Seven-time Crucible king Hendry, 52, was beaten 5-2 by his Chinese opponent who needs one more win to seal a place at the Tempordrom in Berlin.
Yang was born more than five years after Hendry claimed the last of his seven world titles in 1999.
It was Hendry’s first match in the tournament for 23 years and he made an encouraging start in Cannock, taking the first frame with a break of 51.
Yang hit back to take a 2-1 lead but Hendry appeared up for the fight as he restored parity in the fourth frame.
But that was as good as it got for the Scot, with Yang proving too good for him over the remainder of the match to extend Hendry’s underwhelming return to the baize.
Hendry accepted a two-year invitational tour card in 2020 but has failed to replicate the form that saw him win 36 ranking titles.
He was beaten 4-1 by Matthew Selt on his comeback before beating old adversary Jimmy White 6-3 in the first round of Crucible qualifying in a match that showed some things are better left in the past. He was swept aside 6-1 by Xu Si in the next round.
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Hendry beat Chris Wakelin 3-2 in the first round of this season’s British Open, but registered a high break of just 47.
He was beaten 3-0 by Gary Wilson in the second round in a match his opponent branded an “embarrassment” for both players.
Hendry did look improved as he beat Michael White 4-1 to qualify for the English Open, but was hammered 4-0 by Allan Taylor in qualifying for the Scottish Open in a match that lasted only 55 minutes.
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