Stephen Hendry has vowed to give it his best shot as he begins a Rocky-like bid to qualify for next month’s World Championship.
The record seven-time Crucible champion, 48, is taking this week’s Super Star Online World Seniors Championship seriously, as it offers a route into the qualifying stage of the tournament he once dominated. He and the likes of Dennis Taylor and Cliff Thorburn are competing for the prized place, but Hendry is strongly fancied, as he bids to recapture the form that brought him 36 ranking titles.
Hendry retired in 2012, frustrated by losing to players he would have beaten comfortably in his prime.
But the Scot said: “My game’s not bad. I suppose I’m just a few steps away from the Crucible but I’ll have to take it one at a time and we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
“When I’m practising on my own, my game feels great, but there’s a big difference between practising on your own and playing against people.
“That’s going to be the big thing: can I produce that when it matters? Because it’s years since I’ve played competitively.”
He plays his opening match at Scunthorpe’s Baths Hall theatre today and is aiming for Friday night’s final, which also offers the winner a £10,000 prize.
Hendry likened the challenge to the against-all-odds big-screen boxing fairytale of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa becoming heavyweight champion of the world.
“If you win this you’re not even halfway – you’ve got three best-of-19 matches against players who are playing week-in, week-out to qualify for the Crucible,” Hendry said.
“But if one of the guys does it and gets through to the Crucible, what a Rocky story. It’s a great opportunity.”
Taylor has encouraged Hendry to make a full-time return to the tour, saying: “I still think he can compete on the main tour.”