‘Best ever’ Stephen Hendry retires after defeat

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SNOOKER legend Stephen Hendry officially retired last night after suffering a horrow show at the Betfred.com World Championship.

The seven-time world champion, arguably the greatest player to have ever picked up a cue, was hammered 13-2 by compatriot Stephen Maguire at the green baize game’s spiritual home in Sheffield.

And with defeat, which came with an embarrassing session to spare, the dejected Scot shocked everyone when he announced: “I am now officially retired from tournament snooker.

“I made the decision three months ago, and only told a couple of people. It was actually a relatively easy decision, and also a relief – and was made for a number of reasons. The schedule is one, then there is my standard of play, I don’t like the practice any more, and I have commitments in China.

“If I want to see my family, I cannot do both.

“There have been so many memorable moments in my career, and more than anywhere here at the Crucible.

“My first time here, my first win, my seventh world title to break the record, being still the youngest world champion, my first maximum.

“I am sad I will not play here again, and to lose my last match 13-2, but my mind was made up.”

Hendry famously lost 17-6 to Ronnie O’Sullivan with a session to spare in a one-sided semi-final clash at the Crucible back in 2008.

And his other forgettable Crucible defeat was also at the hands of the ‘Rocket’ when he was hammered 17-4 in the 2004 semi-finals.

But at least the former world No 1 managed to pinch another frame to at least spare himself the ignominy of suffering the heaviest quarter-final defeat since 2000 when Dominic Dale defeated David Gray 13-1.

“I just didn’t settle in the whole match, I was just really nervous,” added Hendry, who threatened to quit at the Crucible last year.

“I didn’t want my last match here to end 13-0, that would have been horrible.

“The time is right for me to go. If I’d have won it, it would have been a better way for me to go out.”

Ahead 7-1 after a dominant opening session thanks to breaks of 68, 117, 60 and 95, Maguire wasted no time in reeling off four frames on the spin for a commanding lead.

Breaks of 67, 72, 68 and 125 did the damage as Maguire powered ahead with Hendry looking miserable in his seat.

Maguire finished a brilliant job on his fellow Scot by pocketing a break of 45 in the next and will now play either qualifier Jamie Jones or 2008 Crucible finalist Ali Carter in the semi-finals. “I’m shell-shocked, he’s awesome,” said Maguire.

“In my eyes he’s the best player in the world. He’s the best player to have ever picked up a cue.

“It’s sad to see Stephen go, I was never really expecting that.”

Maguire joked: “I’ve retired Stephen Hendry, it’s quite funny really.”


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