Stephen Hendry aims to make a winning return to competitive action when he faces his close friend Matthew Selt in Round One of the Gibraltar Open on Tuesday.
Seven-time World Champion Hendry retired from the sport in 2012 after a glittering career which saw him dominate snooker in the 90s, gaining the nickname ‘The King of The Crucible.’
He made a spectacular maximum break in his last World Championship en route to the Quarter-Finals before bowing out whilst still situated among the sport’s elite.
Since then, he has featured on the World Seniors circuit, most recently at The Crucible last August, and has primarily worked as a television pundit for ITV and the BBC during major tournaments.
After eight years away, the legendary Scotsman made a stunning U-turn last September, accepting WST Chairman Barry Hearn’s offer of a wildcard that will keep him on the main tour until at least 2022.
Hendry, however, did not feature in any of the first 11 ranking events of the season, having vowed not to return until crowds were permitted back in arenas and until he felt his game was ‘ready’.
With little hope of fans returning before the end of the season, the 52-year-old has now thrown himself into action as he looks to gain match sharpness ahead of next month’s World Championship qualifiers.
It is anyone’s guess as to how Hendry will fare on the TV table, but the will to win and pursuit of perfection still remains ingrained within one of the sport’s fiercest competitors.
His opening opponent is a man Hendry knows all too well both on and off the table, with the pair having practiced together and spent time on the golf course.
Selt reached a career-high ranking of 20 back in 2016 and is now in 35th, having gone more than a year without reaching the Quarter-Finals of a ranking event.
The 2019 Indian Open champion suffered Second Round exits in five of his opening six ranking events this season before a First Round defeat in the Shoot-Out and a Third Round loss in the Welsh Open.
His best single performance of the season came in last November’s UK Championship when he made five centuries in a 6-0 whitewash of Morocco’s Amine Amiri.
Selt thrashed Hendry 5-1 in their most recent encounter in the Last 16 of the 2011 Australian Open, avenging a 5-2 defeat in their first fixture at the 2009 Grand Prix.
Their highly-anticipated rematch gets underway from 7pm GMT and will be contested over the best of seven frames.
Either former world finalist Barry Hawkins or emerging Chinese talent Luo Honghao will await the winner in the Second Round.