Stephen Hendry admits sharing the record of seven World Championship titles with Ronnie O’Sullivan “would be an honour”.
Six-time World Champion O’Sullivan is just two wins away from equalling Hendry’s record, which has stood since the Scotsman claimed his last Crucible crown in 1999.
O’Sullivan’s run to the Semi-Finals in Sheffield this year has already seen him eclipse Hendry’s record tally of 70 match wins at the World Championship and reach the one-table setup for the 13th time in 30 appearances.
The Rocket has swept aside David Gilbert, Mark Allen and Stephen Maguire for the combined loss of only 14 frames, producing seven century breaks along the way.
Hendry believes it will take something special to deny the 46-year-old the title and admits he would be honoured to share the record.
“It would be an honour for me to share seven titles with him because he has taken it to a new level,” said Hendry.
“I am struggling to see anyone who can compete with Ronnie because he is supreme in all departments.
“He looks focused, he’s scoring when he gets in. It’s going to take something to beat him.
“There’s been no one like him and will we see someone like him again that’s got that cue ball control? He’s taken the game to a new level in that respect.
“It’s just phenomenal and as a snooker player it’s beautiful to watch, you really appreciate what he’s doing and how good it is.”
O’Sullivan will take on fellow ‘Class of 92’ rival John Higgins in a four-session Semi-Final which starts on Thursday evening and is the bookmaker’s favourite to lift the trophy.
The 38-time ranking event winner, however, still regards Hendry as the greatest player of all-time and believes ‘The King of The Crucible‘ would have remained a top eight ranked player had he opted not to retire a decade ago.
“It’s just how you handle the occasion and the venue,” said O’Sullivan. “We all aspire to be like Stephen, he set the benchmark for everybody.
“Davis did, but he [Hendry] took it to another level. We’re all trying to be like Stephen was.
“I still think if he’d have carried on and adapted his game and had a few years with [Ray] Reardon he’d have still been in the top eight.
“He just couldn’t handle thinking that he had to play safe!
“I’m here to enjoy it, I love playing and I’m enjoying competing.
“Stephen is an all-time legend for me, the greatest player. He was the Tiger Woods of snooker.
“Me and John [Higgins] have come along and done well, but when Stephen was flying in the 80s, he was a superstar. We’re not superstars.
“When there’s one man dominating the sport like Tiger Woods did, it’s a different level.”