Ronnie O’Sullivan delighted to have ‘Tiger Woods of snooker’ back playing

“He just changed the way snooker was played and everyone was in awe of what he was doing on the table.”

Ronnie O’Sullivan has hailed Stephen Hendry “the Tiger Woods of snooker” as the seven-time snooker world champion prepares for a comeback.

Hendry will play his first professional match in nine years when he returns at the Gibraltar Open in Milton Keynes next week.

Stephen Hendry’s return.

The 52-year-old will face Matthew Selt in the first round of the Gibraltar Open. It will be his first professional match since a 13-2 loss to Stephen Maguire at the 2012 World Chamionship.

The Scot had been set for a number of comeback dates but had withdrawn – saying he did not want to be “embarrassed”.

Hendry was on hand to watch Ronnie O’Sullivan demolish Jack Lisowski 6-1 at the Players Championship in Milton Keynes to reach a record-equalling 82nd ranking event semi-final.

Hendry described O’Sullivan’s cue as a “magic wand”.

Ronnie O’Sullivan on Stephen Hendry.

The six-time World Champion was delighted to received the compliment off – who he describes as – “the Tiger Woods of snooker” and can’t wait to see him back competing on the tour.

“Stephen has done magnificent things in the game,” O’Sullivan said after his victory.

“He was like our Tiger Woods of snooker, if you like, when he came along. He just changed the way snooker was played and everyone was in awe of what he was doing on the table.

“He was our game-changer, in a way, so it’s nice to get a compliment from the great man himself.”

O’Sullivan disappointingly lost the Welsh Open final last week to 750/1 outsider to Northern Ireland’s Jordan Brown.

Nevertheless, the Rocket was back in sensational form, racing into a 5-0 lead before winning the seventh frame to clinch a 6-1 victory over Lisowski.

“I can play like that, so it’s nice to deliver a performance like that,” O’Sullivan added.

“But I can equally play really awful, so I’ll probably be sitting here tomorrow night saying, ‘What’s happened in 24 hours?’.”

Kyren Wilson on Stephen Hendry.

Kyren Wilson also made it through to the semi-finals and welcomed Hendry’s return to snooker’s elite.

However, the 29-year-old ruled out doing the same at 52 – instead he will be happily enjoying retirement.

“One thousand per cent, when I’m 52 I’ll be on a beach in Portugal, retired and with multiple alcoholic drinks by my side,” Wilson quipped.

“But Stephen obviously has a great presence in the game. I’ve worked with him before and I’ve just tried to pick his brains.

“I always like to try to learn from these guys.”

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