HAVE we seen the last of snooker legend Stephen Hendry?
Let’s hope not, but the writing looks to be on the wall despite another great escape from the Crucible King.
Hendry looked to be cruising into the last 16 having held a commanding 6-3 lead over Joe Perry at this year’s Betfred.com World Championship.
But just like last year’s tournament, when he kept us all gripped to our seats having come from 9-7 down to beat qualifier Zhang Anda, the Scot left himself facing elimination in a dramatic final frame.
Only four balls were remaining when Perry left the last brown over a corner pocket. A thankful Hendry potted it to progress, but admitted retirement could be foremost on his mind this summer.
“If I win this thing I might still contemplate retiring,” confessed Hendry. “I’ve got a big decision to make at the end of this season.
“It’s going to be tough for me in the future because I’m not going to play in the PTC [Players Tour Championship] events, so I’m always going to get punished in the rankings.
“I don’t want to play in them, they do nothing for me. I’ve got to decide what I’m going to do after the World Championship.”
Hendry’s last major ranking tournament win was the 2005 Malta Cup, but despite failing to scale the lofty heights he has so often done during a glittering career, the determined Scot has credibly kept his elite top 16 status over the last six years.
Meanwhile, three-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan came within a whisker of pocketing a memorable maximum 147 break in the opening session of his first round clash with Welshman Dominic Dale.
But with a £10,000 high break prize up for the grabs the “Rocket” missed the third to last red and missed out on fourth Crucible maximum.
Nonetheless, O’Sullivan leads Dale 7-2.
MORNING (10am): Marco Fu (Hong Kong) v Martin Gould (Eng) - maximum of nine frames; Ricky Walden v Rory McLeod (Eng) - maximum of nine frames.
AFTERNOON (2.30pm): Graeme Dott (Sco) v Mark King (Eng) - maximum of nine frames; Ronnie O’Sullivan (Eng) v Dominic Dale (Wal) - to a finish.
EVENING (7.30pm): Peter Ebdon (Eng) v Stuart Bingham (Eng) - to a finish; Mark Allen (NIre) v Matthew Stevens (Wal) - maximum of nine frames.