The Whirlwind will likely have to rely on another ITC to remain on the tour.
Jimmy White was understandably disappointed after a dreadful display saw him lose 6-3 to old rival Stephen Hendry in the first round of the World Championship qualifiers on Monday.
There had been enormous hype and anticipation in the build up to the latest chapter in one of the sport’s all-time best rivalries.
While there was undoubtedly plenty of drama throughout, it was more in the comical sense as the two legends of the game struggled badly with the occasion.
For Hendry, the seven-time world champion was searching for a first win since announcing his comeback from retirement earlier this season.
White, meanwhile, knew that a victory was needed in order to keep his Main Tour survival hopes in his own hands.
The pressure only intensified after a slow and shaky start, but it was Hendry who ultimately had more cool to complete the job – much like how the outcome of so many of their previous battles had been determined.
Steals in frames three and six proved crucial, with Hendry snatching the third frame after needing a snooker and the sixth with a vintage 66 clearance to move 5-1 in front.
That was just about as good as it got in terms of quality and there was a sniff of a comeback when White won the next two, but Hendry dug deep to clinch it just before midnight.
“The first couple of frames were so bad and I sort of got very jabby,” a dejected Jimmy White said in his post-match press conference with the World Snooker Tour.
“You get a bit embarrassed as well, you know, when you play that bad – you’re trying to find something, and you’re trying to focus.”
“I couldn’t get anything going today. At the back of my mind I thought that any minute now I’m going to click and start playing just okay, but it never happened.
“I feel exhausted, I feel I might have overdone the practice for this – you can over-practice – and the last week or so I’ve felt really tired, (so) I think I put in too much practice as I felt really drained today.
“I’m not thinking of not playing, I’m just trying to contemplate or try and work out (things). I’ve got to go back and have some sort of clue of how bad I played tonight.
“I’m taking nothing away from Stephen Hendry – Stephen Hendry is playing a lot better than that in practice as well – but at the moment I’m just gutted.”
White, who is outside the top 64 in the official world rankings list, sits sixth on the provisional one-year standings from which the top eight players who haven’t already earned a tour card for next season will be granted with a fresh ticket.
But with so many players still to participate in the qualifiers, it seems almost certain that the 58 year-old will drop out of the bracket and lose his card.
Whether this proves to be his last professional match or not, however, seems unlikely, with up to two new invitational tour cards available for next season.
One seems set to be reserved for Marco Fu, who has been stuck in Hong Kong throughout the difficult 2020/21 campaign, but there’s every possibility that, should he choose to accept it again, the second will be awarded to White.
In the second qualifying round, Stephen Hendry – who called his match with Jimmy White “a scrappy old affair” – will face Xu Si and the former world number one will certainly be aware that he’ll have to raise his game if he’s to have any chance of reaching the Crucible Theatre for the first time since 2012.
Hendry is a 500/1 outsider with Unibet to capture what would be an unlikely eighth world crown, with this Unibet review providing more information on the popular online sports betting site.
Elsewhere on day one at the English Institute of Sport, there was an upset as Belgian amateur Julien Leclercq beat Soheil Vahedi in a decider, while Andy Hicks overcame women’s world champion Reanne Evans.
Oliver Lines produced arguably the performance of the day right at the start, compiling a hat-trick of century breaks in a 6-1 thrashing of Dylan Emery.
Chinese trio Fan Zhengyi, Zhao Jianbo, and Gao Yang were also triumphant with James Cahill, Jamie Wilson, Billy Joe Castle, and Fraser Patrick advancing as well.
Live coverage of the World Championship qualifiers is available on the Eurosport App and Matchroom.Live.
Click here to view the full draw (external site)
Featured photo credit: WST