Jimmy White, arguably the best snooker player never to be crowned world champion, says it is “perfect timing” to renew one of the sport’s great rivalries with seven-time champion Stephen Hendry.
The two veterans have been drawn to play each other in a dream match-up, in the first round of qualifying for snooker’s World Championship, for those of a certain generation reviving memories of some great battles of yesteryear.
Hendry, 52, made his comeback on the professional tour at the Gibraltar Open earlier this month after nearly nine years away.
Hendry and White contested four world finals in the space of five years in Sheffield in the 1990’s with the Scot prevailing on each occasion.
White, 58, has been practising with Hendry which will now stop ahead of their April 6 clash on the green baize.
“It’s a great rivalry and he has just come back so it’s a perfect time to do battle,” White told BBC radio.
“It’s absolutely bizarre. It’s incredible.
“I had my phone switched off but I turned it on and I had all these crazy missed calls.
“I knew the draw was out but hadn’t looked at it but I saw two missed calls from Stephen Hendry and thought ‘that’s a bit bizarre I will ring him back’.
“He said ‘can you believe it’ and I said ‘now I can!’
“We have lots of respect for each other. I have the utmost respect for him.”
White nicknamed ‘Whirlwind’ for his dashing style of play won 10 ranking events during his 41-year career.
However, he drew a blank when it came to the world final, losing on six occasions, including in five consecutive years from 1990.
White famously joked that “he’s beginning to annoy me now” after losing to Hendry in the last of those finals.
“My game’s in good shape,” said White.
“If I can beat Stephen in the first match I have three other tough matches and then I get to the Crucible then hopefully I can win another five matches and become world champion.”