Stephen Hendry points out mental weakness after heavy defeat

Stephen Hendry’s fairy-tale return to the Crucible will have to wait at least a little longer after he crashed out of the World Championship qualifiers.

The seven-times world champion, who beat his once arch-rival Jimmy White in the opening round, suffered a heavy 6-1 loss to Chinese player Xu Si.

Despite winning the first frame, Hendry was second best to the world number 82 – who now just needs to win two more games to make his Crucible debut.

Xu fired in breaks of 75, 79, 51, 66 and 72 as he won six frames on the bounce against one of the snooker’s greatest ever players.

The World Championship proper starts on Saturday, April 17.

This was just Hendry’s third match in his sensational comeback to the sport after initially retiring in 2012.

The snooker legend said he was keen to come back stronger next season but admitted that the mental side of his game had let him down.

Speaking to World Snooker Tour Hendry revealed at times he was thinking during the match whether he could pot certain balls, rather than playing a more natural game.

Stephen Hendry. Picture by Monique Limbos

Hendry said: “I had two or three chances to go 2-0 up and from then on I didn’t offer any resistance to my opponent. He capitalised on all of my mistakes. It doesn’t matter how low a player is ranked, if you make it easy for them, they will still pot balls and win the frames.

“Hopefully with a few more competitive matches under my belt, before we come to this point next year, I’ll be able to have a bit more composure out there.

“Every shot seemed like a test. I was wondering if I was going to pot certain shots, that isn’t the way to think out there. You have to get on with it.

“I’ll certainly play in more events next year. If I am still not able to bring my cue action into a match situation then there is no point. The whole point is to see if I can play my natural game out there. We will give it a go next year and see what happens.”

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