Stephen Hendry has won his first match of the snooker season as his comeback continues, beating Chris Wakelin 3-2 in the first round of the British Open.
The 52-year-old returned to the table earlier this year after a nine-year absence, appearing at the Gibraltar Open and World Championship qualifiers, where he picked up a win over old rival Jimmy White.
He is embarking on a full season on the main tour this time around and has got the campaign off to a winning start by upsetting the odds to beat Wakelin at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
It was not exactly vintage Hendry, with the seven-time world champion still battling to find anything like the form he showed when he was dominating the game during the 1990s.
Thankfully for the Scot it was not vintage Wakelin either and the world number 59 struggled to find any rhythm at any point in the match.
There wasn’t a half-century in the contest and there were some ropy misses – although there were some notable highlights as well including a plant at length from Hendry among some other crunching long pots – but it wasn’t a classic by any stretch.
Hendry went 1-0 and 2-1 ahead, before Wakelin scrapped to take it to a decider from behind in the fourth.
It was a long and edgy fifth and final frame, but after one more bad miss from Wakelin on the black allowed Hendry to sink the final red and clear to the pink to make it into round two, where he will meet either Fergal O’Brien or Gary Wilson.
‘I’m very pleased to win the match, that’s the aim for everyone in this tournament, get the win,’ Hendry said.
‘There was lots of good stuff in there,, but I’m looking at the stats there, highest break of 47, I had lots of chances to win the match in one visit.
‘To get the win is great in front of the crowd.
‘I’m hitting the ball really well, it’s getting better every day. I’m starting to time the ball a bit better. I’m delighted to get the win. Back to the day job tomorrow.’
This was Hendry’s first win on the main tour in front of a crowd since the 2012 World Championship, when he announced his retirement after a quarter-final defeat to Stephen Maguire.
This was after he downed Stuart Bingham in the first round, making a 147, and then John Higgins in the second round.
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