Rejuvenated Joe Perry reflects on dramatic World Snooker Championship exit

SNOOKER star Joe Perry said he had rediscovered his appetite for the game after bowing out of the World Championship in a nervy final-frame defeat to Stephen Hendry.

Trailing 6-3 after the opening session, the Chatteris ace launched a stirring fightback to level the score at 9-9 and take the tie into a thrilling 19th frame on Tuesday.

Despite a brave effort at a last-gasp clearance, Perry missed a crucial brown and Hendry took advantage to book his place in the second round at the Crucible, in Sheffield.

“It just wasn’t to be,” said Perry, who is ranked 31st in the world. “There were certain parts during the match when I felt a bit nervy but at the end, when I got my chance to clear up, I was more relaxed than I’d been for the whole game.

“It was a great match. Obviously I’m gutted but in a few years time I will look back to that match and be glad that I was involved in it.

“It’s nice to feel like I’m competing again. I had 12 months where I was going out hoping not to embarrass myself whereas now I’m going out feeling I can win again. I’m disappointed that I’m not playing at the weekend but I’m pleased with my form.

“The last three months have really got my appetite back for the game and my self belief is coming back. It’s time for me to be positive again and go out and grab it.”

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Perry’s exit followed practice partner Neil Robertson’s shock defeat to young talent Judd Trump. The Fen Potter will return to action in June for the Players Tour Championship qualifiers.

Perry added: “I’m going to have a month off to try and get my golf handicap down to what it should be and then I’ll be back.

“It wouldn’t be a shock to see Stephen get through the next round and then who knows? He might not have the game any more but he’s still got the bottle and the hunger. He will never roll over - he’s a true champion.”