LONDON // Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry announced his retirement from snooker today, ending the illustrious career of the most decorated player in the sport's history.
The 43-year-old Scot, who won a record 36 world ranking titles in a 26-year professional career, made the decision after his 13-2 thrashing by compatriot Stephen Maguire in the quarter-finals of the world championships in Sheffield.
"I haven't been able to play the way I've wanted to play for the last 10 years, and it's just ground me down and down and down," he said. "I keep getting beaten in first rounds and second rounds by people I still know are not as good as me. After a while it becomes too much."
Hendry, who has compiled a record 775 century breaks, became the youngest world champion when he lifted the title at 21 in 1990. He then won it six more times in the next nine years, breaking by one the record held jointly by Steve Davis and Ray Reardon and establishing himself as the game's most successful player.
Hendry is regarded as snooker's greatest ever break-builder. He scored his 11th competitive maximum 147 in this year's world championships at the Crucible, his 27th consecutive appearance at the home of snooker.
"I've had so many (memories) it's hard to pinpoint special ones," Hendry said. "My first win here, obviously the seventh world title, making maximums, I could write a book on the memories I've had here.
"It's sad that I won't play here again. I love playing here, but no, it's a relief as much as anything ... Obviously it's sad that your last match is a 13-2 drubbing but that was just the way it went. At least it wasn't 13-0."
Fellow snooker players and sportsmen paid compliments to Hendry, who plans to devote his time to business interests in China.
"Shame to see stephen hendry retire, loved watching him when I was growing up! snooker legend, best ever," Scottish tennis player Andy Murray said on Twitter.
Jimmy White, who lost to Hendry four times in world championship finals, called his nemesis "a model professional" and a "credit to the game."
"I thank him sincerely for some of the best matches and memories of my own career. I'm not sure his records will ever be equalled!" White wrote on Twitter.
Hendry beat White in four Crucible finals in the early 1990s - 1990, 1992, 1993 and 1994.
Hendry, 43, plans to devote his time to business interests in China, deciding he did not have sufficient time to attend to those and to maintain a snooker career.
Shaun Murphy, the 2005 world champion, wrote on Twitter: "Most successful snooker player of all time, Stephen Hendry retires. Can't believe it."
Former world No 3 Neal Foulds added: "Probably the greatest snooker player ever. I wish him well with whatever he does outside of playing professionally."