Seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry faces his former nephew James Cahill in the First Qualifying Round for The Crucible on Wednesday.
One of the stand-out ties of the qualifying phase sees Crucible king Hendry bidding to roll back the years against a player who made his name on the sport’s greatest stage four years ago.
Hendry comes into the event with the distinct possibility of seeing his world title record eclipsed by defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan – who drew level with the Scot by claiming the crown 12 months ago.
Since making a shock return to the professional game in 2021, Hendry’s tournament appearances have proved few and far between, and he has won only three of his 13 matches contested.
The 54-year-old defeated his old rival Jimmy White 6-3 in the First Qualifying Round of the 2021 World Championship before being thrashed 6-1 by Xu Si, and he opted not to enter last year’s Crucible qualifiers, stating that he had not been practising enough to be competitive.
Hendry has won just one frame in three matches contested this season, losing 5-0 to Mark Joyce in the European Masters, 4-1 to Zhang Anda in the British Open and 5-0 to Matthew Stevens in the German Masters.
Hendry, whose last world title came in 1999, is out to defy the odds and seal a first Crucible appearance since 2012 – when he made a 147 break en route to reaching the Quarter-Finals.
Aiming to crush that dream is 27-year-old Cahill – whose aunt Mandy was married to Hendry for almost 20 years.
Cahill created global headlines when he sensationally dumped Ronnie O’Sullivan out of the World Championship on his debut in 2019, before being agonisingly edged out 13-12 by Stephen Maguire in the Last 16.
Cahill had won three qualifying matches to make history by becoming the first amateur to compete in the main stages of the World Championship and inflicted O’Sullivan’s first opening round defeat at The Crucible since 2003.
Since then, the Blackpool cueist has struggled to emulate that success and dropped off the tour at the end of the 2020/21 season, before securing his return at Qualifying School this season.
He reached the Last 16 of the recent WST Classic, defeating former World Champion Shaun Murphy along the way, and will be keen to get one over on his former uncle in their first competitive meeting to date.
The match gets under way from 10am BST for a maximum of nine frames, before resuming to a finish over the best of 19 from 7pm.
World number 73 Lei Peifan, 19, awaits the winner in the Second Qualifying Round on Friday.
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