Seven-time world snooker champion Stephen Hendry’s bid for an extraordinary return to the sport’s biggest stage at this year’s Crucible showpiece was denied after the 52-year-old was well beaten by Chinese world No 82 Xu Si in Sheffield on Wednesday night. The pair met in the second round of World Championship qualifying after Hendry defeated old foe Jimmy White 6-3 in an uninspiring match earlier this week in the first of four preliminary rounds before the competition’s first round proper, which is scheduled to begin on Saturday April 17. Xu, ranked just one place higher than White in the world standings, played a splendid match, racking up five half-centuries on his way to dumping the Scot of the reckoning. Hendry, in stark contrast, admitted he “didn’t contribute anything to the match”. Hendry took the opening frame in the best-of-11 clash, and drained a break of 49 on his way to building a 53-point lead in the second before Xu fought back and began a run of form that would see Hendry, a tournament winner on no fewer than 36 occasions during a glittering career, dumped out at the second hurdle. Stephen Hendry says Hong Kong is his favourite city and he hopes for a return as he begins his comeback on the pro tour Using the momentum of his stirring comeback in frame two, 23-year-old Xu built breaks of 75, 79, 51, 66 and 72 on his way to a resounding victory. “I didn’t expect to get through four matches but I hoped after coming through that match against Jimmy that I would relax into a little bit of form here,” Hendry said. “In the second frame I was on a break of 49 and I lost position and in the old days that frame would have been over. But then I stuttered and it was all really downhill from there.” Xu’s win all but salvaged a renweal of his tour card for next season, while for the former world No 1 it signals a return to the practice table if he is to launch another assault on the Crucible in 2022. Seven-time world snooker champion Stephen Hendry praises Hong Kong team during clinic “When you’ve got no confidence in your cue action, that’s what happens to you,” Hendry added, “every shot seems to be a test rather than just relaxing and getting on with it. “There’s still not a lot of composure, and it’s a sad state of affairs but my safety is probably the best part of my game at the moment.” Hendry was bidding to return to the World Championship stage after an absence of nine years. He announced his return to the sport in September last year when he took up a two-year invitational tour card to compete at snooker’s top level saying he had “always missed the buzz of competing”.