Stephen Hendry says the ultimate goal of his snooker comeback is to play at the Crucible again as he prepares to come out of retirement.
The 51-year-old has accepted a two-year invitational tour card to return eight years after he retired at the 2012 World Championship.
A return to the iconic Sheffield venue is what the Scot wants most of all, and he believes he can do it.
‘The ultimate goal is to walk out at the Crucible again, but that’s a long way off,’ Hendry said on Instagram. ‘I’ll almost definitely enter it, whether I get to the Crucible, that’s the goal.
‘I think I can, if by next year my game keeps improving, I think I can qualify for the Crucible.
‘It would be amazing to walk down them stairs again in the main event. it would be incredible. [Winning the World Championship] That’s the dream, but no expectations.’
The seven-time world champion explains that rediscovering some form thanks to SightRight coach Steve Feeney has spurred him on to come back to the table, but insists it will not be a full-time return, just playing the odd event.
‘I’ve no expectations about doing anything win-wise or success-wise, but I just felt, why not?’ Hendry continued.
‘I’ve been doing some stuff with Steve Feeney, SightRight, and my game’s not there yet, I’m not saying I’m going to come back full time, I’m not going to be practicing six hours a day, seven days a week.
‘But I may play in the odd event, I’m not coming back full-time, I’m not saying I’m going to win an eighth world title or anything like that but I think it’ll be fun to play the odd event, I’m looking forward to it.
‘I’m enjoying hitting the ball well again, the last Seniors event I hit a bit of form and was very disappointed to lose in the semi-finals to Jimmy White.
‘I’m sure there will be some negative comments, but if I can play well in a couple of matches, that’d be great. Even if I don’t win a match, It’ll be nice to go and play in an event and maybe just show a bit of form, it’ll be nice.’
World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn encouraged Hendry to make the decision, with a game of golf last week Hearn’s chance to make his case.
‘I played golf the other day with Barry and Steve [Davis] and Barry said, “why not?” I agreed with him, why not?
‘Before lockdown I had about eight or 10 sessions with Steve Feeney and started to hit the ball properly again.
‘When I started with Steve Feeney he asked what I want and I just said I wanted to enjoy playing snooker again, snooker’s all I know, and i am enjoying hitting the ball properly again.’
Hendry beat Nigel Bond and Aaron Canavan to reach the semi-finals of the World Seniors Championship last month, before being downed by Jimmy White, but those victories and some impressive breaks showed that some of the old magic is still there.
‘I started to score a bit again in the Seniors and that’s what my game’s all about,’ said the 36-time ranking event winner.
‘Maybe I can cause a couple of upsets, that’ll be fun. Maybe play well on a match table, we’ll see.
‘I can’t make any predictions about the tour, I haven’t even won a Seniors event so I’m not going to say that I’m going to start competing on the main tour, that would be a stupid thing to do.
‘When I’m commentating and doing the pundit stuff, I do miss it, the atmosphere, so just to start playing some matches again will be fun.’
‘I miss the buzz of walking out in an arena to play snooker, I’ve been out of it a long time but I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing that buzz.
‘If I play in some tournaments and get destroyed then I’ll leave as quickly as I joined, but I just want to compete.’
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