Hendry can't get used to losing
Stephen Hendry has admitted he still hates losing as he heads into his 27th World Championship at the Crucible.
Hendry expects to be jet-lagged when he tackles Stuart Bingham on Saturday afternoon, having spent the week with sponsors on an unavoidable trip to China.
He battled his way through qualifying last weekend, beating Chinese prospect Yu Delu in a badminton hall on the outskirts of Sheffield to earn his place at the televised theatre stage of the event.
With seven world titles, Hendry is the ultimate class act from the Crucible era, yet at the age of 43 he is struggling to remain competitive.
It hurt Hendry to be thrashed 13-4 by Mark Selby in the second round in Sheffield 12 months ago, and he considered retirement.
But the veteran cannot shake the snooker bug, no matter how each defeat leaves him emotionally torn up.
"I still hate losing, and being at the stage of my career where I'm not really competing at the minute - I'm losing first and second rounds - is even worse," Hendry said.
"I am playing well in practice and the game is still there, but to not produce it, it hurts you. The competitive side doesn't go away."
White, too, continues to play, but the six-time runner-up failed to reach the Crucible stages for a sixth successive year, losing in qualifying.
Hendry famously beat Jimmy White in four World Championship finals during the 1990s.
If Hendry shared White's attitude to losing, the Scot would have found his recent form considerably easier to accept.
"Jimmy's a unique personality, and while obviously you don't forget defeats - I still remember defeats more than victories - we used to see each other at the after-parties and you would think he'd not been in a World Championship final," Hendry said.
"He was soon back to normal. He's such a great personality. I must admit I don't have the same trait. If I lose, I tend to think about it for a long time and get pretty down about it."
Hendry's last notable title came at the Malta Cup in 2005, and he has slumped to 23rd in the world rankings.
He has stepped into media work with the BBC, emerging as an astute commentator, but out in the arena is where he would always rather be.
"Nothing is going to substitute being in there and playing," he said. "Being in the commentary box in the Crucible theatre as I was last year for the final, it kills you not to be out there and playing. It's not a bad second best though."
Like it or not, Hendry has had to cope with more defeats at this stage of his career than at any other. To an extent he is managing the repeated doses of punishment.
"It's not a nice thing to say, but it's getting easier," he said. "It's been a long time since I won.
"I'm not expected to win now, which takes a bit of pressure off, but obviously I've got my own expectations and my own aspirations, but it's a horrible thing to say that you get used to losing."
Bingham and Hendry have a Crucible history, with the English potter stunning his illustrious opponent in the first round in 2000. Hendry was defending world title number seven, and an eighth now appears highly unlikely.
"You get used to winning, and then you get used to losing," Hendry said. "Obviously you know which one is the best."
Crucible losses are the worst, so Hendry is hoping for a strong start to his campaign this weekend. A win of any kind would delight him.
"Turning up jet-lagged might be a new way for me to win," Hendry said.
"I've been turning up well prepared and losing, so it might be something new for me."
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