Stephen Hendry says he is still ‘enjoying the process’ of his snooker comeback, despite ‘all sorts of bulls**t being talked about it’.
The seven-time world champion was in action at the English Open on Tuesday night but could do little to stop an in-form Chris Wakelin in a 4-0 defeat.
The Scot returned to the baize earlier this year, nine years after he retired at the 2012 World Championship and it has been a struggle to get back up to pace on the ultra-competitive main tour.
Hendry has picked up three wins, beating Jimmy White, Wakelin and Michael White in recent months, but has not been past the second round of any event yet.
Nevertheless, he insists he is enjoying himself, and even after the one-sided loss to Wakelin he had a smile on his face as he said as much. Although he is well aware that there are naysayers.
‘I keep saying it, I’m enjoying the process, my practice is going really well, I’m getting stronger and stronger all the time,’ Hendry told Metro.co.uk.
‘One of these matches I will play well and beat someone. It’s coming, I know it’s coming but it’s a slow process.
‘I keep telling people and there’s all sorts of bullshit being talked about it by players and all sorts, but I’m just enjoying the process, seeing how I can play the game and see where it takes me.’
Among the questioning voices have been John Virgo, who described the comeback as a mystery, and Stuart Bingham who is not a fan of it.
Hendry is well aware that he is not pulling up any trees at the moment, but it is not a complete failure, considering he was out of the game for nearly a decade.
‘Some people didn’t think I’d win one match, I’ve won three,’ he said. ‘It’s nothing to shout about, compared to what I did in my career, but listen, I’m enjoying the process. I’m finding something in my cue action that I think I can rely on going forward and we’ll see where it takes me.
‘When people say you’re not going to win a match and you win one, then it’s nice, but I’m not setting the world alight. Listen, I’m far from proving anyone wrong as regards to my comeback.
‘I’ve never made it out to be anything that it isn’t. I just want to enjoy playing snooker again, whether that’s on my own, in an exhibition, on the TV table, that’s what I said to [coach] Stephen Feeney at the start of it. I know the game inside out, it’s all I can do, to be able to play those shots again will be nice.’
Asked whether the questioning voices have irritated him, Hendry said: ‘No not at all, it’s funny. [Mark] Selby this afternoon: “I’m looking forward to seeing Hendry twitch all over the place.”
‘Some of it, you wonder why they’re bothering but I guess it’s me and they’ve got to say something.’
Wakelin played superbly in the 4-0 win on Tuesday, making breaks of 141, 135 and 85, a standout performance for the world number 65.
Hendry does feel like he is there to be shot at and players pull out their best form against him, but sees it as a compliment.
‘It’s nice, I’ve got to take it as a compliment,’ he said. ‘Even scratching around the way I am at the moment I’m still seen as a scalp.’
Some professionals have suggested they would relish playing Hendry because he is a fairly harsh voice in the commentary box and they would enjoy showing him just how difficult the game is.
Hendry doesn’t dispute that they might feel this way, but he does dispute that he is harsh, insisting he has always just called it how it is on commentary.
‘Not at all,’ said the Scot on whether he deems himself harsh. ‘I just say what I see.
‘If it’s a bad shot I say it’s a bad shot, if it’s a good shot I say it’s a good shot. I’ve always done that, but I don’t think a lot of commentators have done that.
‘I think a lot of commentators don’t want to upset the top players but I don’t care. If they play a bad shot it doesn’t matter who it is, I’ll say it.’
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