As the 2019/20 snooker season gets underway, Stephen Hendry has picked out some familiar names to be picking up silverware again, along with a youngster to look out for.
The seven-time world champion thinks the standout players of the previous season will be back firing this time around, naming the three men who won three ranking events last campaign as those who will be achieving great things again.
However, after his spectacular victory at the World Championship in May, the Scot sees Judd Trump as leading the pack as we commence another season on the baize.
‘At this point in time he’s [Trump] the man to beat in every event,’ Hendry told Metro.co.uk. ‘The three players of the season were [Ronnie] O’Sullivan, [Neil] Robertson and Trump and if you had to pick three probable winners next year you wouldn’t go far wrong picking those same three.’
Those three players occupy three of the top four spots in the world rankings, with 2018 world champion Mark Williams taking up the #3 position, so it might not be the most revolutionary of selections, but it sounds very likely.
Hendry has also noted the progress of China’s 19-year-old star Yuan Sijun who made a big impact on tour last season and is expected to ruffle more feathers again going forward.
The teenager reached the semi-finals of the Gibraltar Open, but it was his run to the last eight of the World Grand Prix which really caught Hendry’s eye.
‘I was really impressed with Yuan at the Grand Prix, really impressed with his game,’ the Scot continued. ‘But it’s all about behind the scenes. Is he being looked after properly? Is he doing the right things?
‘Talent alone won’t be enough to get him where he’s got the potential to get, so it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on this season.’
Yuan didn’t make it to the Crucible for the 2018 World Championship, but two players that really shone in Sheffield were David Gilbert and Gary Wilson, both making shock runs to the semi-finals.
Expectations will be raised for both players this season, but Hendry can only really see one of them capitalisiing on their success in South Yorkshire.
‘Gilbert is well into the top 16 now and has obviously showed that he’s a vastly improved player and very consistent,’ said Hendry.
‘Gary Wilson I’m not so sure, obviously the World Championship was a great event for him, whether he can kick on or not remains to be seen.
‘Gilbert, though, he’s got to where he is in the world rankings [#12] without winning, so this year could be the time he wins his first event.’
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