Next season snooker fans could be in for a real treat – the return of green baize legend Stephen Hendry.
The seven-time world champion retired two seasons ago after an illustrious 27-year career.But the ambitious Scot, who has won a record 36 ranking titles, has decided to take advantage of a new wildcard which will let him pick and choose the tournaments he plays in over the next two seasons.
And that means Hendry could be back, here at the Crucible in Sheffield, next April, to complete in the Dafabet World Championship.“The option is there and there’s every chance I might fancy playing at the World Championship again,” revealed Hendry.“It would be amazing to play at the Crucible again.
“I’ve played exhibitions here [since I retired], so it would be massive buzz for me. Right now I’d be surprised if I never played in a World Championship in Sheffield again. You’d have to think I’d give that a go again at some stage. But if I couldn’t play to a certain standard then it wouldn’t be that much of a buzz.”
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn revealed yesterday that Hendry and six-time world champion Steve Davis have both been offered wildcards to prolong their careers.
“They have both said they would be delighted to receive an invitation,” said Hearn.“These players have been a significant contributory factor to the success of snooker – and the least we can offer them is a two-year invitation to participate as long as it doesn’t act to the detriment of existing players.”
On the table birthday boy Barry Hawkins reeled off a total of eight frames in a row to keep his title-challenge on track.Hawkins, last season’s beaten Crucible finalist, resumed with a 5-4 overnight lead against Tamworth potter David Gilbert.And breaks of 93, 50, 71 and 53 did the damage as Ditton cueman Hawkins set-up a last 16 showdown with Ricky Walden, a re-run of one of last year’s semi-finals.
Judd Trump, a beaten Crucible semi-finalist last season, claimed a nervy win over qualifier Tom Ford.Trump led 6-2 but saw Leicester’s Ford win six of the next eight frames to level.
But Trump, a 2011 finalist, held himself together to scrape over the winning line by winning two scrappy frames for a battling 10-8 victory. “Hopefully I can drag everyone down and win it in first gear,” joked Trump.“It doesn’t matter how you play, if you become world champion then that’s all that matters.
Hong Kong cueman Marco Fu converted a 6-3 overnight lead to beat qualifier Martin Gould 10-7 to keep his hopes alive of pocketing the £300,000 first prize.
Results: Barry Hawkins bt David Gilbert 10-4, Judd Trump bt Tom Ford 10-8, Marco Fu bt Martin Gould 10-7.