Hopeful Hendry underdog in Hopton

After scraping through into the semi-finals of this season’s Premier League, Stephen Hendry now has his sights set on his first title since 2005. Click below to read his thoughts on this weekend’s matches in Hopton…

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“I would say I’m probably the underdog but I lost my first two games, so to still qualify, I’m absolutely delighted,”

“But we all have a chance. It all comes down to the week and if you hit form at the right time, you can win it.

“It’s a title and I haven’t won any title of note for the last three or four years. There is a big ranking event in the UK Masters coming up next month and winning this would certainly be a big confidence boost ahead of that. The Premier League is one of the ones that players in the tournament enjoy. It is different to the normal ranking tournaments in that it’s been running since September, rather than a single block of matches.

“But now it’s back to knockout snooker and, of the four of us, we’re all used to that and the one that plays the best will win.”

“After the start I had, I was just happy to qualify and there is no easy draw,”

“On paper, Ronnie is the most difficult but Mark finished top of the group so he could arguably be a harder draw. But undoubtedly, it’s four top players and there’s no way I could say I want him or him.”

“There is no doubt it [the shot clock] suits Ronnie, he is the quickest player of the four qualifiers. But I don’t think the shot clock is a big issue when you’re playing well. It’s only when you are not playing well that I think it affects you,” said the current world number six.

“Even the other three of us, we’re not particularly slow around the table but we would go round a couple of times to look at things and we don’t have that with this.

“But that what makes it a bit different, a bit special.

“Ronnie’s favourite, he’s won it for the last four years. Joe and Mark have qualified in their first year so they’re obviously comfortable with the format, so there should be some great snooker.”

As Stephen says, there should be some great snooker as four of the best players in the world meet this weekend. Will O’Sullivan make it five in a row? Well he has to start off as favourite, but in Mark Selby he has an opponent in the draw who has beaten him this year and who has excelled in the League this season. First things first though, he has to beat Joe Perry which is certainly not a formality given the fact that Perry defeated him in the league stage earlier this season.

Selby himself plays Hendry of course and though he comfortably beat the Scot during the league phase, Hendry’s form has been much improved recently and hopefully we will see a much closer match this time around.

Whatever happens, it should be exciting…