I can understand why a lot of people don't like Hendry, or find it slow to admire him. He stopped the most popular player of all time from achieving his dream, over and over again, sometimes in the cruelest fashion possible. But should he be hated for this? Of course not! Hendry had a job to do, he wanted to win World titles, his appetite for success was unquenchable. And in a sport where we complain about so many underachievers, credit must go to Hendry for winning at nearly every oppurtunity he got.
I have no doubt Hendry raised the benchmark during the 1990's. Steve Davis won his 6th World title in 1989, hammering John Parrott 18-3 in the final. If someone told you at that stage that Davis would fail to win the crown again, I think they would have laughed at you. But the Nugget, one of the greatest player ever, hardly got a look-in during the 90's. Why? Yes, he didn't play as well during the 90's, but surely a certain Hendry had something to do with that?
People talk about the 90's being a weak era. On paper, that may be true, but really, I don't know. You still had some serious players to deal with between 1990 and 1994. John Parrott, Jimmy White & Steve Davis (to a certain extent) were all excellent players, and I'm sure I'm missing a few more. During the 80's, there was a similar number of tough players, so I don't hink Hendry's achievements were diminished in any way.
Hendry was so far ahead of the pack it was scary. Very few players could live with him. Any players who could live with him rarely beat him. Hendry raised the bar immeasurably during the 90's, and in many ways lay the foundation for such a tough era between 2000 and 2004. He raised the standards. He was that good.
In the mid 90's, and Ronnie O'Sullivan himself has said this, players had to look at the way Hendry played and realised that 'this was where they had to be'. I don't think it's a coincidence that Ronnie O'Sullivan, John Higgins and Mark Williams came along at almost the same time. By the start of the 00's, we had the top list of players we'd ever seen IMO. Hendry, O'Sullivan, Williams, Higgins, Doherty, Ebdon, Hunter, Stevens and Lee made up a superb top 9, while the likes of McManus, Hamilton, Dott, Swail and Gray were no pushovers either. I agree with Seifer that standards rose during the 00's, but I credit Hendry for this.
Hendry's World Title in 1999 was a superb one. He was no longer as good as he was, so to win the World Title showed just how good he was. I can't think of many players who won the World Championship when past their best. Ronnie O'Sullivan had to play a more Hendry-style game rather than his previously gung-ho approach to win the World Championship. I think Hendry was the father of 00's snooker, the greatest ever player under pressure and probably the best player of all-time.
If we must respect O'Sullivan, than we must also respect Hendry
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