Ronnie O'Sullivan World Championship exit 'bittersweet' for Stephen Hendry

Stephen Hendry is pleased that his World Snooker Championship record remains intact for another season, but admits that Ronnie O’Sullivan’s early exit from the Crucible is a blow to the tournament.

The defending champion suffered a shock 13-12 defeat to Anthony McGill in round two in Sheffield after an epic tussle came to a conclusion on Friday night.

The Rocket remains on six world titles, for now, one short of Hendry’s record of seven, which he set when he claimed his seventh in 1999.

The Scot is not afraid to admit that he is glad O’Sullivan cannot equal his record and that he hopes he never does, but given the star power of the Rocket, it is a shame to see him lose early on.

‘Big shock for the tournament that the defending champion is out,’ Hendry said on Instagram.

‘Lots of people on social media saying that I must be delighted because he can’t get to seven world titles this year.

‘I’m not going to lie, I don’t want him to equal or break my record but if it happens it happens, I’ve just got to deal with it.

‘Good news, obviously, for me, but bittersweet news for the tournament, the tournament is always better with Ronnie in it.

‘He’s just such an incredible player and brings so much to the tournament so I’m disappointed in that way.

‘But all credit to Anthony McGill and he’s got a magnificent chance of getting to the single-table set-up again.’

O’Sullivan still fancies his chances of at least equalling Hendry’s record, with the 45-year-old giving himself five more years to realistically compete at the Crucible.

‘I have probably got another five years I suppose to go at the record,’ O’Sullivan told the Times. ‘The way I look after myself, the way I play . . . I suppose I could get it right maybe one more time. It’s probably the only record I haven’t got, so I won’t be too hard on myself.

‘Can I still win here? Yeah, and I wouldn’t say that if I didn’t think so. I just need to pitch up and play. A bit like Roger Federer and Tiger Woods, they are probably not the best player now, probably don’t have the former desire. But they are still the one that everybody wants to see.’

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