Stephen Hendry lost on his comeback

Stephen Hendry loses to Matthew Selt on return to professional snooker

Stephen Hendry's return to professional snooker ended in a 4-1 defeat to Matthew Selt at the Gibraltar Open on Tuesday night.

Despite a classy century in the second frame, Hendry was outplayed by Selt in what was his first match on the circuit since the 2012 World Championship, where he walked away following a heavy defeat to Stephen Maguire.

This long-awaited return started promisingly, Hendry cueing well to pot a mid-range blue in the opening frame, but to his credit Selt took his chances in a match he'd described as the biggest of his career.

Edging the first frame, Selt then had to sit back and watch Hendry produce some vintage snooker on his way to a 107 break in frame two, the 776th of his career - almost nine years on from his 775th.

But from there, Hendry was largely a spectator, his safety game showing signs of rust in an otherwise promising display.

Watch: Stephen Hendry's century break

Stephen Hendry makes century on comeback

App users can watch the video via our YouTube channel by clicking here

"It was great. I really felt the nerves when I put my suit on in the hotel room," confessed Hendry. "That's when it hit me. My stomach was a wee bit tight driving up, because I knew today was the day. I felt quite nervous, which is a good sign - without nerves you can't perform.

"The long-game needs improvement, I'm working on that. That's something that needs to be worked on. I was generally quite happy, I didn't miss anything easy. I thought Matt played fantastically - he never missed a ball. It was a tough initiation back into it.

"I tried to always keep my expectations down about this comeback, it's not a full-time comeback; it's not about trying to win eight world titles. I'm coming back to enjoy the buzz of playing again, and if my game continues to improve, see what happens."

Watch: Hendry admits to nerves on comeback

Stephen Hendry pleased with comeback at Gibraltar Open

App users can watch the video via our YouTube channel by clicking here

Hendry returns to snooker... with a foul

After waiting almost a decade for the opportunity, Hendry’s first shot was a foul as he came up short attempting to hit the back of the pack of reds off two cushions.

The Scot got his first chance when Selt broke down on 32, and an ambitious long blue served notice of his intent despite a constant battle to keep control of the cue ball.

Having run adrift after an encouraging break of 38, Selt took advantage of a loose safety by Hendry to ease through the colours and seal the opening frame.

Brilliant century makes it 776 in total

Hendry pounced on a missed brown by Selt in the second frame to record the 776th century of his professional career.

His coolly-taken clearance to black of 107 signalled an emphatic response to all those who had doubted his ability to be competitive in his comeback.

An immediate response of 65 set Selt up to nudge back in front at 2-1, and the 35-year-old maintained his stellar long-pot success to carve a break of 48 which proved enough to nudge him one frame from victory at 3-1.

Never the biggest fan of safety play, Hendry was left to consider the improvements required in that element of his game if he is to stand a realistic chance of clawing through four qualifying rounds to reach the Crucible.

Selt continued his admirably focused display into the fifth frame, when he took two opportunities to build an unassailable advantage and close down his good friend’s comeback with a 4-1 win.

Hendry, who won six Masters and five UK Championships in addition to his seven world crowns, will now turn his attention to his goal of regaining his place at the Crucible through the gruelling qualifying process next month.

He will have to win through four rounds to realise his major comeback ambition, and whilst it remains an improbable task, he will not be quite so readily written off after a result which was contrived more by the excellent form of his opponent.

All right, Jimmy White!

Earlier on Tuesday, Jimmy White produced a dazzling comeback to beat Joe O'Connor 4-3.

Trailing 3-0, White looked to be on his way out of the competition before producing breaks of 75, 74, 54 and 90 to stun O'Connor and reach the second round.

"It was nice to make one visit in the last frame," said White, who is focused on getting back to the Crucible for the World Championship in April.

"I've been practicing really hard, playing really well. A win like this gives the confidence such a boost. I know that my game's there.

"If I can go deep in this tournament, and get my game stronger... if I can qualify for the World Championship I'll be delighted."

Click the images for our feature content to mark the return of one of snooker's greatest players...

Nick Metcalfe welcomes Stephen Hendry back to the World Snooker Tour

Nick Metcalfe welcomes Stephen Hendry back to the World Snooker Tour

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Chris Hammer looks at snooker's 'golden oldies'

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