Ronnie O’Sullivan has hailed Stephen Hendry as snooker’s “game-changer” as the Scottish legend prepares to come out of retirement at the age of 52.
Hendry, a seven-time world champion, is scheduled to return to the table at the Gibraltar Open next week.
He holds the record for most seasons as world number one with nine and has the second highest number of ranking titles behind O’Sullivan.
Hendry became the youngest ever world champion aged 21 in 1990 – a record he still holds.
After demolishing Jack Lisowski 6-1 at the Players Championship in Milton Keynes to reach a record-equalling 82nd ranking event semi-final, six-time world champion O’Sullivan paid tribute to one of the few snooker stars regarded as his equal.
“Stephen has done magnificent things in the game. He was like our Tiger Woods of snooker, if you like, when he came along,” O’Sullivan said.
“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 will be joined in the last four by Kyren Wilson, who welcomed Hendry’s return, but ruled out emulating the Scot’s brave quest to rejoin the tour in his sixth decade.
The 29-year-old compiled two centuries as he cruised into the semi-finals with a 6-2 win over Neil Robertson.
Wilson, who could conceivably face Hendry in the third round in Gibraltar next week, said: “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.
“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.”