Hendry To Face White At Betfred World Championship
Stephen Hendry will face old adversary Jimmy White in the first qualifying round of the Betfred World Championship next month, a repeat of the four Crucible finals they played in the 1990s.
Hendry, age 52, retired from the pro tour in 2012 but has returned this season with an invitational tour card and will compete in snooker’s biggest tournament for the first time in nine years. White, age 58, also has an invitational card and is currently ranked 83rd in the world.
The draw for the first qualifying round pitched players ranked 81-112 at random against the 32 players either ranked lower or among the amateur invites. The qualifying rounds will run from April 5 to 14 at the English Institute of Sport – Sheffield.
Hendry beat White in the World Championship final in 1990, 1992, 1993 and 1994, giving him the first four of his seven titles. White made the final six times in all but is yet to lift the trophy.
This time, they will both need to win four matches just to reach the Crucible. Their first round tie, at 7.30pm on Tuesday April 6, will be the best of 11 frames, with the winner to meet China’s Xu Si in the second round.
Hendry v White: the Crucible Clashes
1988 second round: White 13-12 Hendry
1990 final: Hendry 18-12 White
1992 final: Hendry 18-14 White
1993 final: Hendry 18-5 White
1994 final: Hendry 18-17 White
1995 semi-final: Hendry 16-12 White
1998 first round: White 10-4 Hendry
Hendry was asked about the draw on ITV4 at the start of today’s Cazoo Tour Championship programme and said: “I can’t believe it. All those finals and now we will play each other in the very first round, it’s incredible. We have been practising together but that will end now!”
Women’s World Champion Reanne Evans will start her bid to make it to the Crucible against Andy Hicks – the same opponent she faced last year when she lost 6-3. Rebecca Kenna will make her debut in the event against Brandon Sargeant.
Ken Doherty, the 1997 World Champion, will face Lee Walker. Belgium’s Ben Mertens, who last year became the youngest player ever to win a match in the tournament, will be up against Lei Peifan.
The 16 players who make it through the qualifying rounds will go through to the Crucible, joining the top 16 seeds, for the final stages which run from April 17 to May 3.
All qualifying matches are best of 11 frames, up until the final round on April 13 and 14 which is best of 19. The round structure is:
Players seeded 81-144 contest the opening round.
In round two, those 32 winners will face players seeded 49-80.
In round three, those 32 winners will face players seeded 17-48.
In round four, those 32 winners play each other, with the 16 winners going through to the Crucible.
All ten days of qualifying will be covered on the Eurosport App, with commentary throughout Europe, plus our partners in the People’s Republic of China – Youku, Zhibo.tv, Migu, Kuaishou and Huya – and Matchroom.Live throughout the rest of the world.
When informed about the draw, Hendry who is at Celtic Manor working as a pundit/commentator couldn’t believe it. I can’t quite either…
Provided no one above Jimmy in the rankings other than Marco Fu and Mei Xiwen withdrew, there was 3.1% chances for this to happen. And it’s such a big story, such a boost for the first round. It will delight the broadcasters and the press… there will be a big buid-up for sure. Was this really only left to chance? For the integrity of our sport, I want to believe it, but I can’t completely shut down the doubts in my mind TBH. Anyway…
Stephen Hendry would love to go back to the Crucible but is aware thar he may not be ready just yet:
Hendry – Crucible Is The Goal
Stephen Hendry hopes he can make it to the final stages of the Betfred World Championship – but admits his game may not be ready to get through the qualifiers this year.
The seven-time World Champion will be in the line-up when the draw for the qualifying rounds of snooker’s biggest tournament comes out this week. Starting in the first round, 52-year-old Hendry will have to win four matches to make it to the Crucible for the first time since 2012.
Hendry retired from the pro game nine years ago but is now back with an invitational tour card, and made his return to the baize at the recent BetVictor Gibraltar Open, losing 4-1 in the first round to Matthew Selt despite making a century break in the second frame.
“I don’t think my game is sharp enough to win four matches, to be honest,” Hendry told ITV, looking ahead to the trip to Sheffield. “It has come a little bit too soon. But if I win a couple of matches, you never know what confidence can do. Next year I’ll give it another go. That is the goal – to get back to the Crucible.
“I’m not trying to get back to competing with the top guys because they are on a different level. I’m just want to play a few matches, get some enjoyment, maybe get two or three victories and see where that takes me.”
Jimmy has beaten Hendry the last time they played at the Crucible, last year in the Seniors World Championship, and he has also got some good wins in recent weeks, notably at the 2021 Gibraltar Open where he reached the last 16. Psychologically. it’s a hard draw for both. They will play on April, 6, in the evening session.
Except for the last round, there will be only four tables in use, meaning that we may be able to watch half of the matches, which is good. I do hope that they will show four tables during the last round. It would be a pity if that isn’t the case.
Other than the “main match”, here are the first round matches I’m hoping to be able to watch:
- Soheil Vahedi v Julien Leclercq. Soheil has all my respect, he’s had it the hard way and showed a lot of courage by playing Eden Sharav recently, defying the Iranian authorities. Julien is Belgian and one of the rare native French speakers amongst the young Belgians in the sport. I will hope for Soheil to go through, mainly because I would love to see him stay on the tour, but I also hope that Julien can give a good account of himself and enjoy the occasion.
- Zhao Jianbo v Ross Muir. Two young players. Zhao looks like a real prospect, Ross was unlucky to suffer ill health in his last season on tour.
- Jamie Clarke v Iulian Boiko.
- Rory McLeod v Brian Ochoiski. Serious clash of style, there. Brian could learn a lot from this match.
- Peter Devlin v Lukas Kleckers.
- Lei Peifan v Ben Mertens
- Simon Lichtenberg v Ivan Kakovskii