After Monday’s meander into the past, Stephen Hendry collided with the new snooker reality on Wednesday night.
World No.82 Xu Si wasn’t even born when Hendry won six of his seven world titles, but was adamant in sending the 52-year-old former King Crucible 6-1 as they qualified for the championship. of the world.
Hendry actually won the first frame and also built a comfortable lead in the second but, having progressed largely thanks to a brace, Xu never looked troubled from a distance.
The breaks of 75, 79, 51, 66 and 72 were also a reminder that while Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Mark Williams have demonstrated that the high-end standard of snooker is not that different from 20 years ago. years, the force in depth is of a much higher order.
It was only Hendry’s third game on his pro comeback after nine years in retirement and, having beaten Jimmy White 6-3 earlier this week in one game, it was another rambling and erratic performance.
It wasn’t unexpected either. Hendry’s goal in returning to snooker was to qualify at least one last time to appear as a player at The Crucible, but he always recognized that his best luck would come next year.
Practice is one thing but tournament tables and the wider competitive atmosphere is another and he knows the only cure is more matches. “I wasn’t expecting to finish four games here, not the least bit, but I was hoping that after I managed this game with Jimmy, which was very disjointed, I would relax a bit here,” he said. he declares. “The second frame, I think I was on 49 and I lost the position, in the old days this frame would have been finished and I would have been 2-0 ahead and on the way, but I stammered.
“From there it was really just a descent. He can play, but anyone can play if you don’t put any pressure on him.
Xu will now face fellow Chinese Zhou Yuelong in the third of four qualifying rounds for a place in the finals of the World Championships later this month.