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Hendry: I need to improve to achieve Crucible dream

Desmond Kane

By

Desmond Kane

Published 02/03/2021 at 23:02 GMT

| Updated 03/03/2021 at 08:12 GMT

Stephen Hendry concedes he will have to improve if he is to realise his dream of returning to the World Championship in April following a 4-1 defeat to close friend Matthew Selt in the Gibraltar Open first round.

Hendry was given a harsh lesson on the cut-throat nature of snooker at the highest level in his first competitive match on the main World Snooker Tour in nine years despite making a magnificent break of 107 in the second frame – his 776th century in the game.

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World number 25 Selt produced some superb battle-hardened match play behind closed doors in Milton Keynes boosted by a sharp long game that included breaks of 65 and 50 as he restricted the seven-times world champion to only 12 points in the final three frames.

Hendry, who turned 52 in January, was content with his first performance back in the limelight since retiring after a 13-2 defeat to fellow Scot Stephen Maguire in the 2012 world quarter-finals, but admits he will have to improve with the Crucible qualifiers starting on Wednesday 7 April at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

“I was generally quite happy because if you cut out unforced errors, you can do well,” said Hendry, who was handed a two-year tour card by WST chairman Barry Hearn in September to join fellow icons Jimmy White and Ken Doherty on the professional circuit.

“It was great. I really felt the nerves when I put my suit on in the hotel room. Getting ready and putting my suit on, I really felt quite nervous which is a good sign because without nerves you can’t perform.

But it needs to be nerves of excitement and expectation rather than nerves of not knowing what is going to happen.

“I thought Matt played fantastic. I can’t remember him missing a ball. It was a tough initiation back into it.

“My game isn’t good enough yet to qualify for the World Championship,” added Hendry, who claimed world victories in 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1999 before enjoying work as a TV pundit in recent years.

“I think there is work to be done. I’ve got about a month of practice to get it better.

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“I played one or two good safety shots, but it wasn’t tight enough.

On another day, it could be different. I’ve been commentating on matches where players are missing long balls all over the place. Matt never missed one.

“So if they don’t go in and he leaves me in, it could be a different result. Matt’s long game was fabulous.

“My safety has to be tighter and my long game has to be better. It’s not ready yet to qualify for the Crucible.”

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Tuesday’s Gibraltar Open schedule and results

9am

  • Steven Hallworth 2-4 Jamie Jones
  • ChenZifan 4-1 Daniel Womersley
  • Ian Burns 1-4 Leon Fernandez
  • JackLisowski 4-1 Farakh Ajaib

11.30am

  • MarkWilliams 4-1 Li Hang
  • JimmyWhite 4-3 Joe O’Connor
  • Chang Bingyu 4-3 Eden Sharav
  • Nigel Bond 3-4 ChrisWakelin

2pm

  • Kyren Wilson 4-2 Kuldesh Johal
  • Andrew Higginson 4-3 Lu Haotian
  • Stuart Carrington 4-0 Gao Yang
  • Zhao Xintong 4-1 Ashley Carty

4.30pm

  • Ken Doherty 4-3 Matthew Stevens
  • Mark Selby 4-1 Sam Craigie
  • Peter Devlin 3-4 Daniel Wells
  • Elliot Slessor 4-3 Jackson Page

7pm

  • Matthew Selt 4-1 Stephen Hendry
  • Barry Hawkins v Luo Honghao
  • Martin Gould v David Grace
  • Zhao Jianbo 4-0 Noppon Saengkham

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