Jimmy White welcomes 'perfect' Stephen Hendry draw in World Championship

Stephen Hendry (left) and Jimmy White
Stephen Hendry beat Jimmy White 18-17 in the 1994 final, one of the greatest matches in World Championship history

Jimmy White says the draw that pits him against fellow snooker legend Stephen Hendry in the first qualifying round of the World Championship is "perfect".

Seven-time Crucible champion Hendry won four of his world titles in the 1990s by beating White in the final.

The Scot, 52, has just made a comeback and will face White, 58, in his second match since returning on 6 April.

"It's a great rivalry and he has just come back so it's a perfect time to do battle," White told BBC Radio Surrey.

"It's absolutely bizarre. It's incredible.

"I had my phone switched off but I turned it on and I had all these crazy missed calls. I knew the draw was out but hadn't looked at it but I saw two missed calls from Stephen Hendry and thought 'that's a bit bizarre I will ring him back'.

"He said 'can you believe it' and I said 'now I can!'

"We have lots of respect for each other. I have the utmost respect for him."

White, one of the most popular players to have played the sport, first turned professional in 1980.

He has won 10 ranking events during his glittering, uninterrupted 41-year career.

But, despite reaching the World Championship final on six occasions - including in five consecutive years from 1990 - victory in snooker's showpiece event eluded the 'Whirlwind'.

White famously joked that "he's beginning to annoy me now" after losing to Hendry in the last of those finals.

The pair have been practising together since Hendry was given a tour card but that will stop before they meet next month.

"We obviously won't be practising any more and tuning up together," White added.

"In the past few months when he was getting back on the tour we decided to have a few games.

"It's well-documented that my best preparation wasn't that great in the 1980s and 1990s, but I have always enjoyed practising. And if you enjoy practising you can keep going as long as your eyesight is good.

"My game's in good shape. If I can beat Stephen in the first match I have three other tough matches and then I get to the Crucible then hopefully I can win another five matches and become world champion."

The qualifiers begin on Monday, 5 April before the World Championship gets under way on 17 April.