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Stephen Hendry withdraws from the Northern Ireland Open

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Stephen Hendry in action (Photo credit: Mike Egerton/PA Images/Alamy)

Stephen Hendry has pulled out of the 2022 Northern Ireland Open ahead of the qualifying stages.

The seven-time World Champion was due to face Aaron Hill in the qualifying round in Wigan later this month but has opted to withdraw from the competition for personal reasons.

Hendry’s season began with a thumping 5-0 whitewash at the hands of Mark Joyce in last month’s European Masters qualifiers.

The Scot has been replaced in the draw by China’s Zhao Jianbo.

The main stages of the Northern Ireland Open – the first of this season’s Home Nation Series – will take place in Belfast from October 16-23.

Hendry made a shock return to the main tour in 2020 after initially retiring from professional competition a decade earlier.

The 53-year-old has entered only a handful of events since his return and has failed to progress beyond the Second Round stage of any ranking tournament, picking up just £11,000 in prize money.

Hendry opted not to enter this year’s World Championship qualifiers and his only televised victory of last season came the British Open 12 months ago – when he defeated Chris Wakelin 3-2.

However, he has been offered an extended wildcard to remain on the tour for the next two seasons, alongside 1997 World Champion Ken Doherty.

In April, ‘The King of The Crucible’ vowed to continue his comeback but admitted: “Basically, I haven’t been practicing enough and as I’ve found in the matches that I have played, if you don’t put the work in you’re not going to do yourself any justice.”