British Open: Stephen Hendry beats Chris Wakelin for first main-draw win since comeback

Stephen Hendry
Stephen Hendry returned to professional snooker in 2021 after a nine-year absence

Stephen Hendry claimed his first main-draw win since his return to the professional tour with a 3-2 victory over Chris Wakelin in the first round of the British Open.

Playing in his third tournament since his comeback, Hendry, 52, edged home in tense, scrappy decider after Wakelin won a gruelling fourth frame to tie the match 2-2.

“You’ve got to get that feeling back, that composure, that’s what I lacked,” said Hendry, who won the British Open in 1988, 1991, 1999 and 2003.

Hendry’s highest break in the match was just 47 and the seven-time world champion acknowledged that he will have to improve to reach the latter stages, although he saw some positive signs.

“Scoring has got to be better, but there is enough there for me to be encouraged by. I’m hitting the ball really well, it’s getting better and better each day,” said Hendry, who will play Fergal O’Brien or Gary Wilson in round two.

After retiring from snooker in 2012, Hendry last year received an invitational tour card to play on the World Snooker Tour for two seasons and made his comeback at the Gibraltar Open in March, losing 4-1 to Matthew Selt.

The Scot failed to qualify for the World Championship in April, losing a qualifier to China’s Xu Si, having beaten old rival Jimmy White in the previous round.

Elsewhere, Mark Selby defeated Shaun Murphy 3-2 in a repeat of their World Championship final earlier this year.

The Jester thrilled his hometown crowd at the Morningside Arena in Leicester, wrapping up the decider to set up a possible meeting with two-time World Championship finalist Ali Carter in the second round.

“It doesn’t matter how you play, it is all about getting through in a best of five,” said Selby.

When Selby and Murphy met at The Crucible in May’s final it was the first time a UK sporting event had hosted a full-capacity crowd in more than a year.

Selby won 18-15 to claim his fourth world title.

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