Stephen Hendry will take on a familiar adversary in his quest to return to the Crucible this year with the Scot drawn to face Jimmy White in the first round of qualifying for the Betfred World Championship.
Hendry, who made an eagerly-anticipated comeback to the professional tour at the Gibraltar Open earlier this month after nearly nine years in retirement, had a famous rivalry with White in the early 1990s.
The duo memorably contested four World Championship finals in the space of five years in Sheffield and Hendry prevailed on each occasion in 1990, 1992, 1993 and 1994 en route to becoming a record seven-time winner.
White has never been able to get his hands on the grandest prize, despite featuring in six finals, while the ‘Whirlwind’ last reached the main draw in 2006 – and has been a losing qualifier in every year since then.
In order to gain entry to the first round of the World Championship, which gets under way on April 17, Hendry and White – who have a combined age of 110 – face four matches in a qualification event that starts on April 5.
Hendry, 52, found out the news while in his role as a pundit for ITV at the ongoing Tour Championship – and was incredulous when he found out that White was lying in wait for him.
“No, stop it,” he said. “I can’t believe that. You’re winding me up – that’s unbelievable.
“All those finals we played and now we’re starting off at rock bottom playing each other in the very first round. It’s incredible.
“We’ve been practising together as well, so that’s ended!”
The pair’s last meeting in the professional ranks went in Hendry’s favour as he won 9-8 in the last-32 of the 2010 UK Championship, but White, 58, defeated his old nemesis 4-2 en route to going all the way in the World Senior Championship last August.