Stephen Hendry has come a long way since he lost 5-4 to Joe O’Boye in his first qualifying match in the Grand Prix.
The year was 1985 and Hendry was just 16. He has since won the Grand Prix on a record four occasions and is the game’s greatest ever player.
Hendry’s form has dipped over the last couple of seasons. Some would argue he should retire to protect his legacy.
I think this is nonsense. He is, after all, sixth in the world rankings and was a World Championship semi-finalist only a few months ago.
Look at Steve Davis: 51 and still battling, a quarter-finalist at the Shanghai Masters and a winner yesterday over Neil Robertson.
But there is a major difference between Davis and Hendry, namely that Davis enjoys rolling up his sleeves and getting stuck into the tactical stuff, whereas Hendry can’t bear that side of the game.
So his natural potting and break building game had better hold up otherwise he will slip down the rankings.
I know Hendry believes he can still produce the consistent form he conjured to dominate the game in the 1990s.
I believe this was the best snooker anyone has ever played because he did it tournament after tournament (indeed he won five ranking events in a row in the 1990/92 season).
Hendry can still play very well on occasion but, as he approaches his 40th birthday, these will inevitably become fewer.
Nobody wants to see him ending up at Prestatyn. I think if it came to that he would think seriously about retiring.
But he’s not there yet and a few wins such as yesterday’s over Dave Gilbert should help restore his lost confidence.
He told me after he won his record seventh world title that if he never won another match it wouldn’t bother him.
I didn’t believe him. He’s a born winner and it is still only winning that gives him satisfaction.
Nothing else comes close.