World Snooker: Players urge Stephen Hendry not to quit
Stephen Hendry, the seven-time world champion, has been urged to stay in snooker by fellow players after admitting he is thinking of retirement.
Hendry, 42, said he would "decide in the summer" after a 13-4 defeat by Mark Selby put his top-16 spot in doubt - though he will remain in the elite.
World number one and fellow Scot John Higgins said: "I think it is definitely premature. It would be a big loss."
Selby added: "It will be a shame. I definitely don't want him to retire."
Hendry is the most successful snooker player of all time. He has pocketed £8.8m in prize money, won 36 ranking titles, held the number one spot for eight years and has made 10 professional maximum breaks.
However, he has failed to win a ranking event in six years, with his form becoming increasingly erratic during that time.
"If someone said you could have 26 years here, win it seven times and be in two more finals, make two 147s, I think most people would take that," said Hendry, who would have dropped out of the top 16 had Stuart Bingham beaten Ding Jinhui in the second round on Monday rather than falling to a 13-12 defeat.
"I've not had a bad time here. I wasn't a bad player.
"I've won the world championship seven times, which is a record the last time I looked."
Higgins said Hendry's lust for winning may prove a factor in his eventual decision.
"When you look at the last couple of seasons, he has only lost to players ranked above him, he has been beating everyone else," said the current world number one.
"Steve Davis just loves snooker, whereas Hendry just loves winning. I think that is the difference.
"He was one of the main reasons why I play snooker. Davis was my hero when I was young but as a fellow Scot, Hendry was someone I looked up to.
"It would be a big loss to the snooker world. Stephen has got a big decision to make, but it is only him that can make it. But I hope not [that he doesn't retire]."
Another three-time world champion, Ronnie O'Sullivan, also paid tribute to Hendry on Twitter: "Hendry is the greatest snooker player of all time.. No doubt.. Trust me I have played them all!!!!," he said.
Meanwhile, 2005 champion Shaun Murphy tweeted: "Hope Hendry doesn't retire, don't think the wonder bairn is finished yet!!!!!!"
It was a sentiment echoed by Selby after his ruthless demolition of the most successful player in the game.
"In patches he still looks as good as ever and when he gets in among the balls he is playing some great stuff," the world number three said. "I just didn't give him too many chances to produce his game. But I still think he has got a lot of snooker left in him."
Hendry said he had made contingency plans for life after snooker.
"I'll still be involved in the sport," he said.
"I love playing in the arena but I hate not being competitive. Coming down here and not really believing you can win the world championship is not what it's about for me.
"Enjoyment in the game is all about winning and if I can't win I'm not going to enjoy it.
"It's for me and my family to decide, to see what's best.
"I've got one or two things in the pipeline, which I can't talk about for the minute.
"There's still exciting times ahead for me. I'll be involved in snooker in some shape or form because it's all I know."