Stephen Hendry bowed out at the first hurdle of the World Snooker Championship qualifying on Wednesday in Sheffield.
The Scot gave his fans a sliver of hope when he compiled a magnificent century break in the opening frame against James Cahill.
But it was mostly downhill from there, with a string of poor shots gifting his opponent a succession of frames on the bounce.
Cahill, who is the nephew of Hendry’s ex-wife and famously reached the last 16 at the Crucible Theatre as an amateur in 2019, eventually completed a 10-4 victory.
“I just played too many bad shots really,” Stephen Hendry told the World Snooker Tour at the English Institute of Sport.
“In a match, when you follow one bad shot with another, it kind of snowballs a bit.”
“I started off great. Two doubles in a century – that’s unusual for me, because I’m the worst doubler in the world.
“There were little bits and pieces here and there, but generally there were too many unforced errors – something that I criticise players for when I’m commentating.
“There was just a whole load from me. The first four frames, apart from the century, were pretty forgettable.
“I could have won all four of them really, so that really was my chance gone in the early part to try and put pressure on James.
“Unfortunately it’s a catch-22. You have to play matches to get used to being in there again, and unfortunately I’m not playing many matches because I’m getting beat in the first round.
“The only way to get that sharpness is by playing lots of matches, so I think next season – hopefully I get another wildcard, I’d love one – I need to start practicing with players.
“I had a good two or three days at the academy there, I played against Tian Pengfei and Xu Si. I need to do more of that next year just to get used to playing people.
“As I’ve always stressed, 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 that I can play in. Obviously I’ve a lot of commitments otherwise, but I’d love to have another wildcard and play in events.
“In a perverse way, it’s fun. It’s still a very distant dream in the future that one day I’ll walk out at the Crucible again.
“It’s very doubtful, there’s huge odds against. But that’s the dream.”
Hendry will definitely have the opportunity to compete on the professional circuit during the 2023/24 campaign as he has only completed one season of his current two-year invitational tour card.
Elsewhere, 1997 world champion Ken Doherty won the last four frames to seal a 10-5 victory against Reanne Evans.
Ng On Yee later bowed out of the competition as well following a tight 10-8 reverse to Michael Holt in which the Hong Kong cueist compiled a 115 – the highest ever break made by a woman in the World Championship.
For the second successive season, Welsh teenager Liam Davies upset veteran Fergal O’Brien – storming back from 7-4 down to win 10-8.
Ben Mertens, Ashley Hugill, Zak Surety, and Ian Martin were the others to make it through as the first round concluded.
The second round, meanwhile, got under way on day three of the qualifiers, and there was disappointment for Jimmy White’s legion of supporters.
The Whirlwind, who has been in resurgent form this campaign, looked edgy and has a mountain to climb after falling 7-2 down to Martin O’Donnell overnight.
Welsh duo Dominic Dale and Michael White are among the players entering the fray on Thursday.
Ashley Hugill 10-8 George Pragnell
Liam Davies 10-8 Fergal O’Brien
Zak Surety 10-6 Farakh Ajaib
Ken Doherty 10-5 Reanne Evans
Michael Holt 10-8 Ng On Yee
Ben Mertens 10-3 Victor Sarkis
Ian Martin 10-8 Ryan Thomerson
James Cahill 10-4 Stephen Hendry
10am and 7pm
Si Jiahui vs Florian Nuessle
Dominic Dale vs Asjad Iqbal
Michael White vs Aaron Hill
Wu Yize vs Allan Taylor
Stuart Carrington vs Iulian Boiko
Alexander Ursenbacher vs Alfie Burden
Jak Jones vs Adam Duffy
Gerard Greene vs David Lilley
Craig Steadman 3-6 John Astley
Ben Woollaston 4-4 Daniel Wells
Jimmy White 2-7 Martin O’Donnell
Zhang Anda 8-1 Stan Moody
Andy Hicks 5-4 Jamie O’Neill
Peter Lines 4-5 Haydon Pinhey
Mark Joyce 7-2 Anton Kazakov
Ian Burns 4-5 Dylan Emery
Click here to view the full draw (snooker.org)
Featured photo credit: WST