Stephen Hendry believes winning an eighth world title would be the crowning achievement of his snooker career.

Hendry starts his 22nd Crucible campaign this week likely to lose his place at the top of the world rankings.

The 38 year-old snooker has failed to win a ranking title since the Malta Cup in February 2005 and heads to Sheffield eighth in the provisional standings.

But Hendry insists capturing the sport’s greatest prize takes precedence over his ranking position.

He said: “Being world champion is more important to me than being no.1 in the world

“The no.1 ranking proves that you are perhaps the most consistent player over one or two seasons. But I was no.1 for eight years in the 90s and it doesn’t hold the same special feeling as being world champion.

“Winning any competition these days is so special but to be world champion again would be my greatest ever achievement.

“I hope that if my record of winning the title seven times is beaten, it’s beaten by me.

“This year’s world title could be won by anyone from a bunch of four or five players, and I believe I’m one of them.”

Hendry won his first world title at the age of 21 in 1990 and scooped a record seventh in 1999.

His last appearance in the final was in 2002 and he lost 10-9 on a re-spotted black to Nigel Bond in the first round 12 months ago.

Hendry starts his Crucible bid this year against newcomer Dave Gilbert, who works full time for his dad’s farming business when in between tournaments.

And although Hendry is a massive favourite to beat Gilbert, he’s been putting in plenty of work ahead of the tournament.

He said: “My practice regime is the same in time and length as that for any other tournament but I think when you are approaching the World Championship you unconsciously put a little bit more effort into your practice.

“You concentrate a little bit harder because you know the tournament coming up is the big one.

“At the moment I’m practicing on my own. I used to play against people a lot but at this point of time it’s more beneficial to me to play on my own. It makes me concentrate better.

“Sometimes, when I play against people, after a couple of hours, my mind is starting to wonder, I’m not concentrating properly.

“But at the moment, I'm playing four or five hours a day on my own. I put my iPod, listen to music and play balls all day.”

If Hendry beat Gilbert on Wednesday he faces Ali Carter or Andy Hicks for a quarter-final place.

Peter Ebdon would be his most likely last eight opponent with Ken Doherty, Matthew Stevens and Shaun Murphy among those he could meet in the semis.

The 888.com-sponsored event, which carries a £220,000 top prize, starts on Saturday, with Ronnie O’Sullivan the bookies’ favourite to land the title for a third time.

This article first appeared in today's Scottish Sun


Anonymous said...

I was reading an interesting piece about Joe Delaney taking time out from his family's upholstery business to focus on Sheffield.

He made a saliant point in the fact that many of the journeymen players do not have the time to work and practice snooker. And, in the end, the latter suffers and they give up.

Thanks, Joe

CJW said...

Good article. Thanks, Dave. With such good articles, the newspaper deserves more (and more constant) attention so I searched and searched for this Scottish Sun site but couldn't find any link. :( The Sun itself was no help at all.) Could you please show me the way, Dave? THANKS. :)

Dave H said...

They don't actually have a separate website I'm afraid

CJW said...

Thought so... Thanks.