Back on the baize – the key questions around Stephen Hendry’s return to snooker

Mark Staniforth, PA
·2-min read

Seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry will play his first professional match in nine years when he returns at the Gibraltar Open in Milton Keynes next week.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the reasons behind Hendry’s comeback bid, the identity of his first opponent and assesses what is in store for the 52-year-old.

When will Hendry make his comeback?

Snooker – Embassy World Snooker Championship – Crucible – Sheffield
Stephen Hendry won his first world snooker title in 1990 (PA Archive)

Hendry will face Matthew Selt in the first round of the Gibraltar Open early next week. Having accepted a two-year tour card in September last year, the Scot withdrew from a succession of projected comeback dates, citing his wish not to be “embarrassed”. It will be his first professional match since a 13-2 loss to Stephen Maguire at the 2012 World Championship.

Why is he making a comeback?

Snooker – World Snooker Championships – Day Seven – The Crucible Theatre
Stephen Hendry banked a £9million fortune during his playing career (David Davies/PA)

Hendry’s motivations are unclear. It is unlikely to be for financial reasons – he banked almost £9million in prize money in his career and needs to reach the last 64 of the Gibraltar Open merely to pocket £2,000. Having stayed in the sport as a TV pundit and commentator, he may simply wish to test his game against the latest generation.

How will he fare?

Betway UK Championship – Day Three – York Barbican
Jimmy White has stayed on the tour but struggled to win matches (Simon Cooper/PA)

He is likely to struggle. By way of a form guide, Hendry was beaten in the semi-finals of last year’s World Seniors Championship by Jimmy White. White remains on the tour but has not gone beyond the third round of a ranking event since 2004.

Who is Matthew Selt?

Betway UK Snooker Championship – Day Six – York Barbican
Matthew Selt has one world ranking title to his name (Mike Egerton/PA)

Selt, 35, is a good friend of Hendry and has retained a relatively consistent presence in the world’s top 50 over the last 10 years, including winning his sole ranking title at the Indian Open in 2019. He has played Hendry twice previously, in 2009 and 2011, winning their most recent meeting 5-1. In 2013 Selt accused Judd Trump of cutting him out of his circle of friends since he became successful, claiming: “I’ve moved on from having Judd as my friend to having Stephen Hendry.”

Will we see Hendry back at the Crucible?

Snooker – World Snooker Championships – Day Eleven – The Crucible Theatre
Stephen Hendry retired after losing to Stephen Maguire in 2012 (Nick Potts/PA)

He will enter the qualifying competition in April, but at this stage it is almost inconceivable that Hendry would be able to negotiate four notoriously tough qualifying rounds in order to become one of the 32 players taking part in the final stages of the event.