Tag Archives: Hendry

Ronnie O'Sullivan sets Stephen Hendry World Championship target – 'Another five years'

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Ronnie O’Sullivan reckons he has five years left in him to match Stephen Hendry’s tally of seven World Snooker Championship victories, after his bid to draw level with the great Scot ended on Friday night.

The 45-year-old lost 13-12 to Anthony McGill in the second round in Sheffield as his defence of his Crucible crown ended early.

The Rocket’s exit ended a miserable season in which O’Sullivan lost five straight ranking finals at the Northern Ireland Open, Scottish Open, Welsh Open, Players Championship and Tour Championship.

O’Sullivan failed to win a tournament in a season for the first time since 1995-96 after his first ever career defeat to McGill.

The six-time world champion was not the favourite, with world No 1 Judd Trump instead enjoying that status, but was still expected to go deep into this year’s World Championship.

But as he’s left to reel from his loss, which came despite him coming back from 10-5 down to lead 11-10 and then 12-11, O’Sullivan insists he has five years to match Hendry.

The 52-year-old Scot returned to professional snooker this year and is hoping to be among the 32 to play in the World Championship proper next season after losing to Xu Is in the second round of qualifying earlier in April.

Hendry is the only player of all time with more Crucible triumphs than O’Sullivan and the Essex potter has set a five-year timeline to catch up with The Golden Boy.

“I have probably got another five years to equal Stephen,” said O’Sullivan after losing to McGill.

“The way I look after myself, the way I play, I look around and there are some decent players, some very good players.”

O’Sullivan says he’s not putting too much pressure on himself to win a seventh World Championship though.

He added: “I suppose I could get it right maybe one more time. It’s probably the only record I haven’t got so I won’t be too hard on myself.

“It’s impossible,” Bingtao declared after his first round win over Martin Gould. “It’s very difficult and I have little chance.

“I’m working hard every day from this match but it’s impossible – 17 days [at the Crucible] is a long time.

“Any Chinese player can win the title – not just me or Ding [Junhui]. But [Ding] has the best chance.

“Winning the Masters has given me very big confidence. It changed my life but every day is practice, practice for the World Championship.”

Bingtao faces Shaun Murphy in the second round of World Championship and goes into Sunday afternoon trailing the Englishman 6-2.

Ronnie O'Sullivan makes classy admission after Stephen Hendry World Championship bid dies

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Ronnie O’Sullivan admitted that Anthony McGill was the deserving winner and said that the snooker gods “have done the right thing” after he saw his bid to match Stephen Hendry’s record of seven Crucible wins made to wait at least another 12 months on Friday night.

The Rocket was dumped out of the World Snooker Championship after just two matches as the defending champion suffered a 13-12 loss, meaning he remains one triumph behind Hendry.

Having led 4-1, O’Sullivan then found himself 10-5 down after the afternoon as McGill found his rhythm and the world No 2 entered the evening session trailing by four frames.

But he rattled off six straight frames to take the lead and put the pressure on McGill, who responded at 12-11 with a stunning break of 136 – his third century of the match – to force a decider.

And after O’Sullivan missed a red in the final frame following a break of 42, the world No 16 made him pay with an 85 that sees him into the third round to face either Stuart Bingham or Jamie Jones.

McGill devastatingly lost 17-16 to Kyren Wilson in the semi-finals of this season-ending tournament last year and is bidding to better that performance after his first ever career victory over 45-year-old O’Sullivan.

But there was no soreness from the six-time world champion post-match as he gave Scotland’s McGill credit for an excellent victory in Sheffield.

O’Sullivan, who has lost all of his five ranking finals since winning the World Championship last year, told BBC Sport: “That match he lost in the semi-finals last year, he didn’t lose it because he bottled it, he was just unlucky. He deserved his victory.

“I think any snooker player watching that last year can’t begrudge Anthony McGill a world title after that.

“It’s hard to lift yourself up after something like that but I thought he handled himself fantastically well last year. Anybody else I’d probably have really been a bit sore but I think the snooker gods have done the right thing.

“I’ll lick my wounds and come back again. It’s just one of them things.”

Speaking about his warm exchange of words with McGill after his defeat was confirmed, O’Sullivan added: “You have to [be respectful]. What can you do? It’s over. The reality is I’m out of the tournament and he’s still in.

“You’ve got to wish the man the best of luck. It’d be nice to see him go on and have a good run.

McGill said of his victory: “I played so well this morning and Ronnie just played like Ronnie tonight, he played so good. I just didn’t quite step up or reply to him. He was sort of running away with it.

“I managed to flick a frame somehow to go 11 each and that stopped the rot and I’ve finished the last two frames. I missed an easy red in the second or third frame of the session tonight, I should pot it with my eyes closed and I missed it.

“After that I just couldn’t get an easy chance, Ronnie’s safety was fantastic. His safety was so good. Ronnie gave me two easy starters for the final two breaks and I held myself together well. I’m pleased about that.

“I haven’t beat him before but to be honest I can’t even remember the last time I played him. They were all early in my career. I feel like I’m a better player than when I was the times I played him before.

“I felt as though I had half a chance in the match at the start. Almost threw it away but I’m delighted to get it over the line.”

Stephen Hendry out of World Snooker Championship qualifiers as Xu Si ends Crucible dream

Stephen Hendry was dumped out of World Snooker Championship qualifying in convincing fashion by China’s Xu Si as the Scottish legend’s pre-match fears came true.
The seven-time Crucible champion had been hoping to get back to the iconic Sheffield venue but was battered 6-1 by Si in the second round of qualifiers at the English Institute of Sport on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old world No 82 was well superior to his vastly more experienced opponent all night, with Hendry’s struggles from his first-round win over Jimmy White continuing. 

Si put together four straight half-centuries to see off Hendry, who won the first frame but then threw away a 53-point lead in the second, missing the final red, after which he never recovered.

Hendry only returned to snooker after nine years in retirement at the Gibraltar Open last month and clearly has much work to do before he can reach the World Championship proper.

He said before facing Si: “On this evidence, my game isn’t ready. I think next year I would be more realistic about my chances. I don’t think my game is ready to win four tough matches to get to the Crucible yet.

“Hopefully if I can keep getting better and keep improving, my technique becomes reliable and I can get to a better pace, then next year will be the goal to get back to the Crucible.

“I will try to keep expectations low, (but) the animal that I am, if I start to get form, then the expectations will rise. At the moment it is about trying to get back to playing some good snooker.”

And Si punished Hendry’s struggles to book his spot in round three as he looks to make the main tournament on April 17. He takes on Zhou Yuelong next up.

Hendry’s season is now over. Having last appeared at the Worlds in 2012, the 52-year-old will hope to improve his game for next year, when he gets another shot at playing in his favourite venue.

He admitted after losing to Si: “I had good chances to go 2-0 ahead and after that I didn’t contribute anything to the game. My game has got to improve, it doesn’t matter where the other player is ranked

“I’ve never got any enjoyment out of losing, ever. As I said the other night I never expected to get through four matches here, not in the slightest, but I hoped that after coming through that match with Jimmy, which was very scrappy, I’d relax into a bit of form here.

“The second frame I think I was on 49 and lost position, in the old days that frame would have been over and I’d have been 2-0 ahead and off to go, but I stuttered. From then on it was just downhill really.

“He can play, but everyone can play if you don’t put them under any pressure. I made it far too easy for him tonight.

“I have to bring my practice table cue action to the match table. I hit the ball dreadfully, and that drains your confidence. 

“The pink I missed right at the end was just like one I missed against Jimmy White, and I was thinking about it. Every shot becomes a test. 

“If you make it easy for anyone, it doesn’t matter where they’re ranked, they’re going to pot balls and they’re going to beat you.”

Stephen Hendry vs Xu Si final result

Best of 11 frames 

RESULT: Stephen Hendry 1-6 Xu Si

Frame scores: 67-34, 64-66, 0-76, 16-88, 8-67, 9-83, 25-72

Stephen Hendry vs Jimmy White LIVE: Score updates from World Snooker Championship

“Eurosport own the rights, I would like it on more than just the Eurosport app, but of course they’re a little bit possessive of their own rights.

“It’s a struggle, I’m nagging, I’m trying my best. It deserves to be on a more open platform. But of course, if you’re a rights owner you have the final call.”

Hendry or White will have four qualifying rounds to navigate before the main draw gets underway on April 17.

Jimmy White recalls 'bizarre' Stephen Hendry phone call after World Championship draw

White has been a regular practice partner for Hendry since the former made his return to the sport, but the 58-year-old admits that will stop over the next week.

“We obviously won’t be practising any more and tuning up together,” White added.

“In the past few months when he was getting back on the tour we decided to have a few games.

“It’s well-documented that my best preparation wasn’t that great in the 1980s and 1990s, but I have always enjoyed practising. And if you enjoy practising you can keep going as long as your eyesight is good.

“My game’s in good shape. If I can beat Stephen in the first match I have three other tough matches and then I get to the Crucible then hopefully I can win another five matches and become world champion.”

‘You’re winding me up?!’ Stephen Hendry speechless at Jimmy White World Championship draw

World Championship: Hendry shocked at Jimmy White draw

Stephen Hendry was left astonished at the “unbelievable” World Snooker Championship qualifying draw that pits him against his old rival Jimmy White in the first round – responding: “You’re winding me up?!”

'You're winding me up?!' Stephen Hendry speechless at Jimmy White World Championship draw

Stephen Hendry was stunned to be paired with Jimmy White (Image: ITV)

Crucible king Hendry, a seven-time world champion, only made his comeback to professional snooker earlier this month at the Gibraltar Open, where he lost 4-1 to Matt Selt in his opening match.

That was his first competitive time at the table for nearly nine years and as he looks to make yet another appearance at the World Championship, Hendry will first have to get past long-time rival White.

The pair went head-to-head in four finals of the prestigious tournament in the 1990s with Hendry victorious on all four occasions.

White is one of the sport’s greatest ever players never to win the World Championship having reached six finals without success, including a heart-wrenching final frame loss to Hendry in 1994.

The pair are among 128 players competing for just 16 spots in the tournament and Hendry is looking to navigate four rounds of preliminaries through April 5 to April 14 to join the other 16 players already guaranteed their spots, whom include Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan.

And the Scot, told his draw in Sheffield live on ITV on Wednesday, could barely believe that he will once again face off against the world No 83-ranked ‘Whirlwind’.

The 52-year-old, who works for ITV as a pundit and is currently offering analysis of this week’s Tour Championship event, initially refused to accept the news.

“No… stop it! No I can’t believe that,” Hendry declared. “You’re winding me up?! That’s unbelievable.”

Told this may be White’s best ever chance to beat him at the World Championship, Hendry laughed: “Oh cheers Jo!

“That’s unbelievable, unbelievable. All those finals we played and now we’re starting off at rock bottom playing each other in the very first round.

“That’s incredible. We’ve been practising together as well, so that’s ended! Wow.”

Hendry later took to Twitter to further react to the qualifying draw and said: “Can’t make this up.”

The 36-time ranking title winner also posted a picture of himself facing White in the 90s and said: “The saga continues……….”

One fan said: “Sorry Stephen but I hope he kicks your a***”, to which Hendry laughed and responded: “Don’t think you’re the only one.”

White has not got into the main draw of the World Championship since 2006 while Hendry’s last appearance came in 2012 after a humiliating 13-2 quarter-final exit to Stephen Maguire.

That prompted Hendry’s retirement though he is now back and chasing an improbable eight crown, knowing he will face China’s Xu Si if he beats White.

Ahead of their best-of-11-frame encounter, Hendry has not played White professionally since 2010 when they met in the UK Championship with Hendry winning 9-8.

But Englishman, slightly older than his rival at 58 years of age, was victorious against Hendry 4-2 at the World Senior Championship back in August.

The Scottish icon meanwhile admitted after his comeback defeat to Selt at the Gibraltar Open, in which he put together the 776th century break of his career, that he must up his game to get into the main draw of the World Championship.

He has made no secret that playing at the Crucible again is the main objective of his return to the World Snooker Tour.

Hendry declared: “Qualifying for the Crucible is the goal, and making 800 centuries is another goal. I am just enjoying being back really.

“I really felt the nerves when I put the suit on in the hotel room. My stomach was tight driving up. I felt nervous, which is a good sign.

“Without nerves, you cannot perform, but it needs to be nerves of excitement and expectations and not knowing what is going on.

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

“I’ve tried to keep the expectations down about my comeback. It’s not about winning eight world titles.

“I’m coming back to play in arenas, hopefully with people in them, and enjoy the buzz of competing.”

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Judd Trump sent John Higgins warning as Stephen Hendry record eyed

John Higgins has sights set on winning April’s World Snooker Championship as he looks to deny Ronnie O’Sullivan the chance to match Stephen Hendry’s modern era tally of seven triumphs, with world No 1 Judd Trump also looking to build on his sole 2019 victory.
The Worlds are snooker’s biggest prize with O’Sullivan a six-time Crucible champion after getting the better of Kyren Wilson 18-8 to net the £500,000 winnings last year.

The 45-year-old, a record 37-time ranking title winner, is plotting to claim back-to-back triumphs at the tournament for the second time in his career after 2012 and 2013.

O’Sullivan has only ever lost one final at the Worlds having been bettered by Mark Selby in 2014 though still finds himself behind the great Hendry.

Top-ranked Trump, meanwhile, is looking to build on his 2019 victory over Higgins in the Triple Crown tournament having been challenged by O’Sullivan in January to go on and win 60 to 70 ranking titles given his quality and his age, at just 31.

Higgins, meanwhile, is a four-time Worlds winner but lost three successive finals between 2017 and 2019 to Selby, Mark Williams and Trump.

The 45-year-old Scot became the oldest ranking title winner since Doug Mountjoy in 1989 by beating O’Sullivan in the Players Championship final in Milton Keynes on Sunday.

Higgins was imperious throughout the entire week and dropped just four frames across his four matches, three of which came in his 10-3 victory of long-time rival O’Sullivan on the final day.

Now, the 31-time ranking title winner is plotting a fifth success at snooker’s most prestigious tournament next month – and has warned O’Sullivan, Trump and co. that he’s feeling more confident than he has in the last few years despite his recent finals appearances.

“This is the best week so far in my career, but to win the Worlds for a fifth time, that would obviously top it,” Higgins declared.

“It’s going to be really difficult but listen, I’m going there now in a better frame of mind than I’ve done in previous years, so that’s a good thing.

“I think it must have [sent a message]. I was maybe a player in the last couple of years that the top boys would come against thinking, ‘well if he plays well he’s got a chance but if he doesn’t play well I can knock him over pretty easy.’

“So this must let everybody know that I’m still a contender.”

And he said after losing to Higgins: “To be honest with you, as long as I keep pitching up playing, all you can do is just do your best.

“If your best is good enough to only get you to finals then you have to accept that. Hopefully one week I’ll get it right on the final day and hopefully get a trophy.

“But you can’t be too disappointed. There’s 126 players that would swap positions with me at the moment. You’ve got to take some positives from it.

“John was unbelievable this week, fantastic, played brilliant snooker, masterclass today and it’s good to see such a great player back winning.

“It’s good for snooker, that you don’t see very often. I’m happy for John and his family.”

King of the Crucible Hendry, who dominated in the 1990s with five straight successes between 1992 and 1996, is meanwhile plotting a return to his favourite venue this year after his snooker comeback.

The 52-year-old returns to the table for the first time in nine years at the Gibraltar Open at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, an event from which O’Sullivan and Higgins have withdrawn after their Players Championship final.

Hendry is not coming out of retirement merely for the fun of it however and is desperate to play at the Worlds once more.

“I lost 13-2 to Steve Maguire and I basically gave up about a third of the way through the match,” said Hendry looking back at the 2012 quarter-finals of the World Championships.

“I knew it was over. I knew I couldn’t compete. I would like my last match at the Crucible, if possible, to be a match I can look back on and think, ‘I played well, I did everything I could even if I lost’.

“I want a game where I can be happy with what I gave rather than that 13-2 embarrassment. One of my goals in this comeback is not about winning, but just to get back to the Crucible.

“I am going to have to win four matches [in qualifying] just to get there, almost a mini tournament, so it’s going to be so, so difficult. But there’s no point in setting yourself easy goals.”