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Stephen Hendry hopeful of renewed wildcard despite early World Championship exit

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Hendry looks on (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA/Alamy Stock)

Stephen Hendry admits he would “love to have another wildcard” to continue competing on the World Snooker Tour, despite losing all four of his matches this season.

The seven-time World Champion saw his season end with a 10-4 defeat at the hands of James Cahill in the opening qualifying round for The Crucible on Wednesday.

Hendry started the match in vintage fashion, compiling his 777th career century, but his former nephew Cahill dominated proceedings from there on in.

Cahill coasted into a 7-2 lead at the close of play in the first session, and despite a brief rally from Hendry in the evening, the 27-year-old safely secured his spot in Round Two.

“I just played too many bad shots really and when you follow one bad shot with another it kind of snowballs,” Hendry told WST.

“I started off well with a century, there were little bits and pieces here and there, but generally too many unforced errors.

“I should have cut out missing easy shots and the unforced errors, which I am always criticising other people for on TV.

“The first four frames, apart from the century, were pretty forgettable and I could have won all four of them really, so that was my chance gone in the early part to put the pressure on James.

“You have to play matches to get used to being in there again and I’m not playing many matches because I’m getting beaten in the First Round.”

Hendry retired from professional competition following the 2012 World Championship, but made an unexpected U-turn in 2021 after accepting a wildcard invitation to compete on the tour for the next two seasons.

Coming in to the World Championship qualifiers, he had won just one frame in three matches 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.

The Scot, however, has reiterated his desire to remain on the tour in the coming years and has vowed to step up his practice routine in order to regain match sharpness.

He added: “I think, next season, hopefully if I get another wildcard – I’d love one – I need to start practicing with players.

“I enjoyed a good two or three days at the academy playing with Tian Pengfei and Xu Si and I need to do more of that next year, so that’ll be the plan.

“As I always stress, it’s not a comeback. I’m not going to come back and play three or four hours a day and play in every event. I’ll play in the events I can play in, I have a lot of other commitments.

“I’d love to have another wildcard and play in events – in a perverse way, it’s fun.

“It is a very distant dream in the future that one day I’ll walk out at the Crucible again. It is very doubtful. Huge odds against, but that is the dream.”

Hendry will now head to The Crucible in a media capacity as part of the BBC’s commentary team for the main event – which runs from April 15 to May 1.

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