Snooker: Lack of talent below Ronnie O'Sullivan, says Stephen Hendry

 

the Crucible

Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry has bemoaned the inability of the game's leading players to challenge Ronnie O'Sullivan's dominance.

Hendry, the most successful player ever to have picked up a cue, believes this year's World Championship is being handed to O'Sullivan – who says that this will be his last major tournament – far too easily.

"It's up to the other players to try and get to his level," Hendry said. "As Ronnie has said himself, there's been a different winner of every ranking tournament and no one has taken up the mantle to be the governor.

"Mark Selby has always had a good season. He's won more than one tournament, but he and the other players are not playing anywhere near the level of snooker Ronnie is playing here.

"Mark has done excellently to win the tournaments he has [the Masters and UK Championship], but by his own admission he's not played top snooker to win them. If you look at [John] Higgins and, although you don't want to say he's a spent force, he's not the player he was.

"[Mark] Williams is the same. You look at the top players coming in as favourites. Well, there was [Neil] Robertson who flattered to deceive. Ding [Junhui] again has been a failure this year. He was my tip to win it. Selby, he was looking for the triple crown [Masters, UK and World titles in the same season], but he faltered. You have to say the other players are handing it to Ronnie on a plate."

O'Sullivan has hardly had to apply himself in winning three matches to reach the semi-finals, and Hendry is glad to see him back in the game after his self-imposed year off. "Any tournament without the best player is devalued in my eyes whether they [the other players] like it or not. When he was out it was like having Tiger Woods out.

"People were saying the game doesn't need Ronnie because the standard of the top players is so high now. But that's nonsense. The game needs its best player – and the other players need him to raise their game."

O'Sullivan did not have it all his own way today, though, as Judd Trump fought back from 4-1 down to level at 4-4 after the first session of their best-of-33 frame semi-final.

O'Sullivan fired in breaks of 65, 75 and 89 on his way to the three-frame cushion, and looked then a strong favourite to secure an overnight lead.

But 23-year-old Trump, who said prior to the match that he would not be scared of O'Sullivan, proved good to his word as he gutsily fought back.

Meanwhile, Steve Davis believes O'Sullivan's admission that he returned to snooker just for the money could be considered "disrespectful".

Davis said: "We know Ronnie O'Sullivan's interviews are a bit like the British weather: they're changeable. But there's a dilemma for the snooker fan. They love what comes off the end of his cue; they sometimes hate what comes out of his mouth because it is sometimes disrespectful to snooker."

Jostling for the right to take on O'Sullivan or Trump are Chester's Ricky Walden and Kent's Barry Hawkins, who began their semi-final on Thursday evening.

Theirs is perhaps the most unlikely final-four pairing since Nigel Bond took on Andy Hicks in 1995, and Walden hit the front as he seized a 6-2 lead.

Hawkins had speculated that he might struggle with the pressure of the Crucible's semi-final set-up, featuring only one table in the arena and the gaze of the entire audience on the match. So it proved, as he had a best break of only 19 in the opening four frames - one of which he somehow won - while Walden looked sharp and had runs of 91, 105 and 119 as he looked ready for the big stage.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before