The Scot still hasn’t featured during the 2020/21 campaign so far.
Snooker supporters of Stephen Hendry will have to wait longer for his eagerly anticipated comeback after his withdrawal from the upcoming Pro Series was revealed on Friday.
The seven-time world champion was due to compete in the new ranking event next Wednesday in Milton Keynes, which would have marked his first outing as a professional since 2012.
But the World Snooker Tour announced the 52 year-old’s decision to pull out at the last minute.
It has been reported that Hendry made a request for his Pro Series group to be delayed until March, but it was denied.
Hendry had previously said at the beginning of this year that he was intending to make his snooker comeback at the Welsh Open in February, although the draw for that tournament hasn’t been released yet.
His withdrawal is the latest delay in what was originally an exciting prospect but a revival that is gradually turning into somewhat of a damp squib.
The former world number one announced his intentions to return in September after being granted with an invitational tour card.
Yet, several events have come and gone since then, with the 2020/21 term now firmly into its second half.
Hendry had expressed his desire to return when crowds were welcomed back to the arenas, but every event this season has been staged behind closed doors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Considering that seems unlikely to change until potentially the World Championship at the Crucible, it seems like a waste of time to drag on an episode that is descending into one of the most underwhelming comebacks in sport.
As one of the 128 Main Tour players, there is also the understandable criticism from some quarters that he is wasting an opportunity that another aspiring competitor would certainly jump at.
‘Comeback’ descending into a bit of a farce with all the false starts. On the face of it, seems like a waste of a tour card – probably best off giving it to someone else who would appreciate it a bit more.
— Hector Nunns 🇪🇺 (@senornunes) January 15, 2021
Amateur John Astley, meanwhile, is the top-up player who will take up Hendry’s place in the inaugural Pro Series.
A new tournament on the calendar to help fill the void left by the cancelled Chinese events, the WST Pro Series follows a similar format to that utilised in the Championship League earlier this term when the latter was temporarily staged as a ranking event.
There are 16 groups comprising eight players in each, with a round-robin phase determining the top two who will advance to the second group stage.
Eight groups in the first stage take place after the Masters is completed towards the end of January, while the remaining eight groups are in March.
The 32 players who progress to stage two will be split into four more groups of eight, with the top two again moving forward from each to contest the final group where an overall champion is crowned.